Jobs vi­tal to boost­ing in­dige­nous well­be­ing

Re­search shows ma­jor gaps be­tween in­dige­nous and non-in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - Sherele Moody ARM News­desk

– Aus­tralian In­dige­nous Doc­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tion vice-pres­i­dent Dr Sean Wright It’s im­por­tant to re­alise that you can’t have a blan­ket ap­proach – just be­cause some­thing works in one Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity doesn’t mean it will work in another

LONG-TERM and sus­tain­able grass­roots-backed job pro­grams are the key to en­sur­ing Cen­tral and North Bur­nett’s Abo­rig­i­nal res­i­dents are bet­ter ed­u­cated, health­ier and live longer.

That’s the view from three of the na­tion’s lead­ing in­dige­nous ex­perts who have called on the ALP and the Coali­tion to en­sure our 768 Abo­rig­i­nal res­i­dents get a fair go this elec­tion.

Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple make up 7.4% of the Cen­tral and North Bur­nett re­gion’s pop­u­la­tion com­pared to 1.7% of Bris­bane’s pop­u­la­tion and 3.3% of all Aus­tralians.

Aus­tralia’s na­tional labour force par­tic­i­pa­tion rate – that is the num­ber of peo­ple work­ing or look­ing for work – sits at 64.9%. The na­tion’s un­em­ploy­ment rate is 5.7%.

The in­dige­nous fig­ures tell a more som­bre tale with the par­tic­i­pa­tion rate at 58%, and 20.6% of Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple un­em­ployed.

Re­search also shows ma­jor gaps be­tween in­dige­nous and non-in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties in terms of life ex­pectancy, chronic ill­ness, high-school com­ple- tion rates, in­fant mor­tal­ity rates and pris­oner num­bers.

Na­tional Congress of Aus­tralia’s First Peo­ples co-chair Rod Lit­tle grew up in a re­gional Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity.

Dr Lit­tle, who has forged a stel­lar ca­reer in so­cial af­fairs pol­icy, said help­ing Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties to cre­ate sus­tain­able job op­por­tu­ni­ties was the key to bridg­ing the gap be­tween black and white.

He said re­duc­ing racism would also help in­dige­nous Aus­tralians find work with main­stream em­ploy­ers.

“If you un­pack the un­em­ploy­ment rates in re­gional cen­tres, you will find the Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der com­mu­nity makes up a big per­cent­age of those rates,” he said.

“In­sti­tu­tion­alised dis- crim­i­na­tion or racism has pre­vented our peo­ple from pro­gress­ing, yet it’s not talked about openly.

“Com­ing from a re­gional area my­self, I ex­pe­ri­enced it (racism) as a child but I be­lieved it was nor­mal.”

Dr Lit­tle said the ALP and the Coali­tion needed to make strong elec­tion com­mit­ments re­gard­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties for our in­dige­nous com­mu­nity.

“In terms of clos­ing the gaps on health, ed­u­ca­tion and in­car­cer­a­tion rates, you’ve got to have a look at the causes be­hind them,” he said.

“One of the main causes is un­em­ploy­ment and this is worse in re­gional and re­mote ar­eas be­cause the job op­por­tu­ni­ties are not there.”

Ox­fam’s Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der peo­ple’s rights pol­icy ad­viser Peter Lewis agreed, say­ing the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment needed to re­assess the Com­mon­wealth-based In­dige­nous Ad­vance­ment Strat­egy’s ten­dency to award con­tracts to main­stream non-in­dige­nous or­gan­i­sa­tions be­cause they were cheaper.

“We would like to see lo­cal ATSI or­gan­i­sa­tions be the pre­ferred providers and rather than fund­ing be­ing based on com­pet­i­tive ten­der­ing, it should be based on ser­vice map­ping and need map­ping,” Dr Lewis said.

Aus­tralian In­dige­nous Doc­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tion vicepres­i­dent Dr SeanWright said all com­mu­ni­ties were dif­fer­ent.

“It’s im­por­tant to re­alise that you can’t have a blan­ket ap­proach – just be­cause some­thing works in one Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity doesn’t mean it will work in another,” DrWright said.

69.1 73.7 25% 79.7 83.1

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Rod Lit­tle. of the Aus­tralian pop­u­la­tion are in­dige­nous peo­ple Life ex­pectancy for in­dige­nous men and women Life ex­pectancy for non-in­dige­nous men and women 5.7% 86.5% 60% na­tional un­em­ploy­ment rate of non-in­dige­nous Aus­tralians fin­ish year 12 of in­dige­nous Aus­tralians fin­ish year 12 20.6% in­dige­nous un­em­ploy­ment rate 13 in 3.3% in­dige­nous Aus­tralians have ex­pe­ri­enced racial dis­crim­i­na­tion of the coun­try’s pris­on­ers are in­dige­nous Sources: Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der So­cial Sur­vey; Aus­tralian Bureau of Statis­tics; 2015 Clos­ing the Gap re­port; 2016 So­cial Health At­las of Aus­tralia

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