Language learning and employment for Aboriginal students
A major reform to support Aboriginal students to stay at school, make the transition to meaningful work and learn traditional languages to bolster their cultural identity has been launched by Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Victor Dominello.
OCHRE – Opportunity, Choice, Healing, Responsibility, Empowerment was developed to improve long-term outcomes for Aboriginal people in education and employment, service delivery and accountability.
Mr Dominello called the plan a "generational roadmap" that would create long-term sustainable solutions to disparities between Aboriginal and non Aboriginal people's quality of life.
He said at its core were partnerships developed between Aboriginal people, the Government and community services to ensure Aboriginal students were appropriately supported at school, Aboriginal languages were revitalised and students provided with "real jobs" after leaving school. Accountability and local decision making by Aboriginal communities underpinned the plan.
"This is not a plan designed to be a quick fix. Community wants people who have a vision for the future – this is a plan in partnership with Aboriginal people that provides that vision," Mr Dominello said.
"It's very important Aboriginal people are empowered to make decisions on behalf of their own community because they know what they need the most."
Initiatives developed to directly support Aboriginal students include:
- Connected Communities strategy: already launched to support 15 NSW public schools to provide flexible service delivery from local agencies and greater community partnerships in helping Aboriginal students achieve educational success
- Opportunity Hubs: to give school students pathways to real jobs by getting local employers involved in early career planning
- Aboriginal Language and Culture Nests: where centres will be set up in five Aboriginal communities – Gamilaraay, Gumbaynggirr, Bundjalung, Paarkintji/Barkindji and Wiradjuri – to provide a continuous pathway of learning Aboriginal languages from pre-school to the tertiary years.
The plan was created by a Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs, which gained input from 3,000 people across NSW. It was formed in response to reports by the NSW auditor-general (Two Ways Together) and NSW Ombudsman (Addressing Aboriginal disadvantage – the need to do things differently).
A review of the plan would take place in three years.
Photo: Taskforce member Maydina Penrith with Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Victor Dominello at the launch of Ochre. Photo by David Lefcovitch.