$55.7m aims to ‘close gap’
A local Aboriginal organisation has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement that $55.7 million would be injected over five years to help meet the Closing the Gap employment target.
Bloodwood Tree chief executive Kelly Howlett said she was positive about the initiatives which were around Closing The Gap and employment.
“The changes will see better and more comprehensive support being provided to vulnerable and at risk indigenous jobseekers,” she said.
“Locally, the future looks extremely positive, in terms of employment opportunities for indigenous job seekers.”
Ms Howlett said Bloodwood Tree had been collaborating with other local agencies such as Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation, North Regional TAFE and prospective employers.
“That way together in partnership, we can align prospective employees, with the exact training and development they need, to get the job they are seeking.”
The measures announced as part of the 2017 Budget are said to enable strong engagement for indigenous people through training and mentoring before stepping into employment.
A $33.2 sum million will be delivered into pre-employment training and mentoring for indigenous participants, $17.6 million to trial additional employment assistance to indigenous prisoners, and $5 million over four years to support community-designed employment services in Yarrabah, Queensland.
Mr Wyatt said the Government’s investment of $3.6 billion over four years from 2017-18 for the Indigenous Australians’ Health Program would improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“Continued growth in the program will improve access to culturally appropriate comprehensive primary health care for indigenous Australians, as well as address areas of critical need through targeted investments that are expected to accelerate progress in closing the gap in health disparity,” he said.
He said he was pleased 46 of the 200 preferred sites for Health Care Homes were Aboriginal Medical Services. Despite achievements being made in the area, the Prime Minister’s 2017 Closing the Gap report revealed only one out of seven national targets were on track.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people make up 3 per cent of Australia’s population, with about 80 per cent living in metropolitan and regional areas.
Figures revealed WA had the second highest indigenous child mortality rate in Australia, behind the Northern Territory, with 189 deaths recorded between 2011-15.
The report stated the target to halve the gap in child mortality by next year was not on track.
Other targets outlined in the report that are not on track included close the gap in life expectancy by 2031, and by 2018 halve the gap in reading and numeracy for indigenous students and halve the gap in employment by 2018, and close the gap in school attendance by the end of 2018. The target to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment by 2020 is the only goal expected to be met.
Reconciliation Australia chief executive Justin Mohamed said sustained resources were needed to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, education and employment disparities and government support was vital to a long history for reconciliation.
Bloodwood Tree chief executive Kelly Howlett sets up computers for an employment after hours initiative . Picture: Sophia Constantine.