Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Delivering more jobs and job opportunities for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

Aboriginal people living in remote Northern Territory communities now have access to more jobs in their communities and job opportunities at the local level continue to grow.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin and the Minister for Indigenous Health and Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon today released the latest Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory Monitoring Report.

The report shows that in the six months to December 2011, more than 865 Aboriginal people were employed as a result of the additional services provided under the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER).

Also over this period, 1,000 job placements were made for local people from remote communities – a 20 per cent rise compared with the corresponding period in 2010.

Since 2007, there have been 2,241 real jobs created in government service delivery positions.

Ms Macklin said the Government was committed to ensuring more Aboriginal people had access to local jobs.

“We now have Aboriginal people working in a variety of roles in communities – in night patrols, the School Nutrition program, the Remote Aboriginal Family Community program and in safe houses; as health and community workers and rangers in the Working on Country program, as well as Indigenous Engagement Officers,” Ms Macklin said.

The monitoring report shows continued improvements in community safety due to the presence of 60 extra police and the important role of night patrol services operating in 80 communities.

The total number of confirmed assaults declined by 30 per cent in 2010 and by a further 7 per cent in 2011; and drug-related incidents reported by police declined by 19 per cent in 2010 and by 11 per cent in 2011.

The extra police and the work of night patrols have been welcomed by communities with almost three-quarters of community respondents to a safety survey undertaken as part of the 2011 NTER Evaluation, saying they now feel safer in their communities.

Other services delivered in the last six months include:

  • Around 3,183 breakfasts and 4,511 lunches across 73 communities through the School Nutrition Program;
  • 222 new primary health care service positions within the Northern Territory;
  • 1,690 dental follow-up services were provided to 1,377 children;
  • 90 licensed community stores with 11 stores funded to build local capacity and improve food security;
  • Almost 10,000 young Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory participated in the Youth in Community program to help stay connected with school or training, build confidence and reduce self-harm and alcohol and substance abuse;
  • The Mobile Child Protection team investigated and provided follow up services to families and children in 1,030 matters; and
  • 211 clients were supported to access safe places for crisis accommodation.

The monitoring report shows improvements to the lives of Aboriginal people living in remote communities in the Northern Territory, but challenges remain and there is more to be done.

School enrolment numbers have increased by 373 students in the two years to November 2011 and more than 50 Aboriginal people working in schools have achieved higher qualifications in the past six months.

However, average school attendance for students in remote communities remains low at just under 60 per cent.

While substance abuse and drug-related incidents have begun to decline, there was a slight increase in the number of alcohol-related incidents in the six months to the end of 2011.

Ms Macklin said the Australian Government is determined to continue to work with Aboriginal people to address the unacceptable levels of disadvantage still experienced by too many people in the Northern Territory, particularly in remote communities.

“Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory have told us they want more jobs in their communities, they want children to attend school every day and for parents to play a part in ensuring this happens, and they want strong action to tackle alcohol abuse,” Ms Macklin said.

“We are tackling these issues identified by Aboriginal people with our Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory package. This is a $3.4 billion commitment to work in partnership with Aboriginal people over ten years to build stronger communities.”

Minister for Indigenous Health and Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon said the Stronger Futures package would provide for vital services like health professionals, drug and alcohol workers, police and teachers.

“The ten year funding period gives Aboriginal people certainty that these services will be there for the long term,” Mr Snowdon said.

“It means service providers can work with local communities to recruit and train local Aboriginal people and build up local Aboriginal services.

“The Government recognises that closing the gap on Aboriginal disadvantage is not a short term project.”

A copy of the report can be found at: