ACT Labor invests in more support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

ACT Labor is building a city that extends the opportunity to every Canberran to be fully engaged in their community.  We believe it is important that we continue to support the most vulnerable in our community and lend a helping hand to those who need it, when they need it.

ACT Labor has always had a robust respect for the heritage and customs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the region and the contribution their enduring and rich culture makes to the life of Canberra.

At the same time, ACT Labor recognises that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT still experience significant disadvantage.

According to the 2011 Census, Canberra is home to more than 5100 people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. It is a very young community with an average age of 22. A third of the population is under 15 years.

The Commonwealth and ACT Labor Governments provided $231 million in 2010-11, of which more than $131 million was invested by the ACT Labor Government on initiatives to help close the gap for Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This includes funding for the Aboriginal Justice Centre, Koori Preschools, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, the Integrated Family Support Service, trainee programs, the Ngunnawal Healing Farm (Rehabilitation Centre) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body.

ACT Labor has already committed to take more action on smoking by providing $800,000 in funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking cessation programs. But there is more to do.

 

If re-elected, ACT Labor will deliver $3.3 million over four years to provide additional support to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community

We will provide $200,000 for a Canberra region business seminar focusing on Indigenous businesses.

We will provide $880,000 to fund the CHANCES program to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to further their education or enter the workforce.

ACT Labor will commit to $400,000 to fund Early Childhood scholarships to provide training opportunities in childhood services.

We will provide $375,000 for five scholarships for ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary students who wish to pursue a career in health.

And ACT Labor will invest $1.5 million to build five two-bedroom units at one site for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific aged accommodation.

 

Policy costings

ACT Labor’s plan to provide more support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

 

2013-14 ($m)

2014-15 ($m)

2015-16 ($m)

2016-17 ($m)

TOTAL ($m)

Indigenous Business seminar

0.050

0.050

0.050

0.050

0.200

CHANCES

0.220

0.220

0.220

0.220

0.880

Early Childhood Scholarships

0.100

0.100

0.100

0.100

0.400

Health Workforce Scholarships*

0.025

0.050

0.150

0.150

0.375

Housing for older people

0.600

0.900

-

-

1.500

TOTAL

0.995

1.320

0.520

0.520

3.355

* The estimate is based on five scholarships per annum and assumes that the first scholarships commence in January 2014, with full year scholarship payments made at the beginning of each school year.

Policy initiatives

Canberra region Indigenous business seminar

A Canberra region Indigenous business seminar will be an opportunity to draw attention to Indigenous entrepreneurs and networks, build strong relationships and showcase leadership and business excellence across the ACT and surrounding areas.

A re-elected ACT Labor Government will support a Canberra region business seminar focusing on Indigenous businesses. This seminar will be held annually for four years and will be supported each year to a maximum of $50,000 per annum.

 

CHANCES

The CHANCES (Community Helping Aboriginal Australians to Negotiate Choices Leading to Employment and Success) Pilot program operated during 2011-2012 and had 17 participants, who are now employed or looking for work and much better equipped to enter the workforce.

CHANCES has proven to be a positive pathway for engaging vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to further their education or enter the workforce.

The program includes: nationally recognised training; support and mentoring from a range of government and non‑government service providers who share a common aim to provide sustainable outcomes for Indigenous Australians, deemed to be particularly disadvantaged in the areas of health, education, training and employment, and who continue to experience economic disadvantage.

Because of its success and potential, the ACT Government has funded the CHANCES Pilot Program for $180,000 under the 2012-13 Budget.

This money will allow CHANCES to run a second Program in the new financial year and increase the number of places.

A re-elected Labor Government will commit to funding CHANCES at $220,000 per year over the next four years at a total cost of $880,000.

 

Early Childhood Scholarships

Previous and new CHANCES participants will also be given the opportunity to apply for Early Childhood Scholarships which are part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Support and Capacity Building Program.

The 2012-13 Budget funded this program to the amount of $100,000, supporting up to 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to complete training in childhood services.

The scholarships will be used to pay for childcare, transport and training resource costs for participants undertaking relevant study.

The scholarships are aimed at overcoming some of the identified barriers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people completing tertiary study as well as encouraging more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders into the childcare sector to enhance the delivery of culturally sensitive services.

A re-elected Labor Government will commit to funding these scholarships at $100,000 per year over the next four years at a total cost of $400,000. 

 

Health workforce scholarships

In the ACT the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce is not consistent with the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the ACT population.

ACT Health already, in conjunction with the Canberra Institute of Technology’s Yurauna Centre, sponsors two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Enrolled Nursing Scholarships.  This commenced in 2011.

ACT Education & Training (ETD) offers scholarships to senior secondary students and tertiary teacher education students to increase the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers employed in ACT public schools.

A re-elected ACT Labor Government will establish up to five scholarships for ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary students who wish to pursue a career in health.  The value of the scholarship will be $5000 in years 11 and 12, and $20,000 for the first year of their tertiary health studies. After their first year of tertiary study scholarship holders will be eligible for a Commonwealth Puggy Hunter Scholarship. The scholarships will be administered by ETD.

 

Housing for older people

The ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body has identified the need for aged-specific, culturally appropriate, independent living accommodation to cater for the elderly in the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.  In response, ACT Labor will put in place a cluster model of five two-bedroom units built to existing accessibility standards.  An ACT Labor Government will work with members of the Elected Body and the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community on the design and functionality of the units.

The 2011 Census identified 2.1% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population as being 65 years and over.  This translates to 105 people.

ACT Labor will invest $1.5 million to build five two-bedroom units at one site for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific aged accommodation.

 

What we have already delivered

Under ACT Labor, an Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs provides strategic advice to the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in the ACT. The Office coordinates a whole-of-government approach to issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents and provides secretariat and administrative support to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body and the United Ngunnawal Elders Council. The Office also administers specific programs such as the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traineeship Program, the CHANCES Program and the ACT Genealogy Project.

ACT Labor has overseen the following progress:

  • ACT Indigenous senior students have the highest rate of completing year 12 (71%);
  • The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the ACT above the national minimum standard was higher in all tests and all year levels in NAPLAN 2011 than the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Australia;
  • 95 % of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students achieved a Year 12 Certificate in 2011 (7% higher than the public school average at 88%);
  • We have the highest rate of Indigenous employment (78%, up from 69% in 2002) and
  • the highest Indigenous incomes nationally and
  • a shrinking income gap with the wider population.

 

United Ngunnawal Elders Council

Continued secretariat support is supplied to the United Ngunnawal Elders Council which provides advice to the ACT Government in relation to heritage and connection to land matters for the Ngunnawal people.

 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body receives and passes the views of the community on to the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. It represents

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in the ACT and advocates on their behalf.

It also monitors and reports on the effectiveness of government programs through an annual “estimates” style process.

 

Elders Camps

Another way ACT Labor has assisted in bolstering leadership in local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is through two camps specifically for local Aboriginal Elders. Over the two camps, one in February and the other in June, the ACT Government invested $36,000.

Both camps were well attended by local Elders, where they were updated on a range of ongoing projects as well as having the opportunity to comment or make suggestions about ways in which the ACT Government can better work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the future.

 

ACT Genealogy Project

The genealogical and cultural information collected from the ACT Genealogy Project will provide a significant contribution to the region’s cultural history and to future generations of Canberrans – Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal – so they can better understand the role played by Aboriginal families in the region.

A total of $100,000 has been allocated to the project over the past two years to fund two stages, which will give a tangible account of family history and identify Aboriginal family connections to the Australian Capital Territory and surrounding region.

Stage one of the project, the research and collation of regional Aboriginal family genealogies, has been completed and the summary findings are available. Our Kin Our Country was launched on 6 September 2012.

 

Addressing disadvantage and increasing economic participation

The ACT has developed a number of responses to address the disadvantage experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, including targeted early intervention programs under the Youth and Family Support programs and the establishment of the West Belconnen Child and Family Centre with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

Revised case management arrangements represent an important change to youth justice practice, ensuring continuity of relationships with young people in the justice system, regardless of whether they are in the community or in custody.

It is an important early step in the youth justice reform process and the initiative will be developed over coming months. Another significant area of concern in the 2012 Closing the Gap Report is the ACT Public Service Employment Strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and the Indigenous Economic Plan.

Projects under the plan include the ACT Public Service Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traineeship program; Community Helping Aboriginal Australians to Negotiate Choices Leading to Employment and Success (CHANCES) Program; and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Support and Capacity Building Program Early Childhood scholarships.

All three of these important initiatives are aimed at increasing economic participation opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Current figures show self-identified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent 0.9 per cent of the total full time equivalent of the ACT Public Service workforce.

The ACT Public Service has set a target to more than double the employment level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to two per cent of the total full time equivalent of the ACT Public Service. We are working hard towards this goal.

 

ACT Indigenous Business Development Program

Another significant initiative to help overcome Indigenous disadvantage in terms of employment is the ACT Indigenous Business Development Program. The Program aims to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to start and grow their own businesses.

Over the next four years, a total of $150,000 will be invested in the program.

 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Small Grants Program

The ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Small Grants Program is all about further enabling schools and groups to raise awareness and understanding in the wider Canberra community.

Each year, under this program, $60,000 will be used to undertake programs or activities which showcase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture as well as for significant annual cultural milestones or celebrations.

 

ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Grants Program

This Program provides funding support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for leadership training for both formal and informal development opportunities for participants.

Like the Small Grants Program, a total of $60,000 was recently shared amongst nine individuals and groups. The primary aim of the Leadership Grants Program is to encourage and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to develop the knowledge and skills to be better equipped to lead and engage on behalf of their communities and organisations, now and into the future.