$55.7m aims to ‘close gap’

Pilbara News - - Federal Budget 2017 - Sophia Constantine

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.

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