Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

New Illawarra Regional Partnership Agreement

Joint Media Release with:

  • Paul Lynch MP, New South Wales Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
    Sharon Bird MP, Member for Cunningham
    Stephen Jones MP, Member for Throsby
    Lylea McMahon MP, New South Wales Member for Shellharbour

Today the Australian and New South Wales Governments and 17 Illawarra Aboriginal organisations committed to work together to improve the lives of local Aboriginal people through a Regional Partnership Agreement.

A key priority under the agreement is to increase the number of jobs for Aboriginal people in the Illawarra.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said it was unacceptable that Aboriginal people in the Illawarra were more likely to be unemployed than non-Indigenous people.

“A job strongly contributes to personal, social and economic development, and is essential for closing the gap in Indigenous disadvantage,” Ms Macklin said.

The community working party that drove the agreement has identified jobs in nursing, childcare, aged care and environmental services as potential areas for increased Aboriginal employment in the Illawarra.

“To help boost employment both Governments will work with local organisations to encourage young Aboriginal people to take up work experience and traineeships, particularly in health and community services,” Ms Macklin said.

“The Australian Government will also work with Regional Development Australia Illawarra to develop a business plan for green team projects that could employ local people in roles such as bush regeneration and ecotourism.”

To help progress the Regional Partnership Agreement, the Australian Government is delivering $274,000 over the next year to support a range of initiatives, including:

  • $80,000 to employ a coordinator to oversee the implementation of the agreement and to continue extensive community consultation;
  • $140,000 to provide leadership training and skills development to local Aboriginal people;
  • $20,000 to upgrade housing for Aboriginal people with disability in Shellharbour; and
  • $34,000 for Regional Development Australia Illawarra to develop a business plan for new green team projects in the Illawarra and on the South Coast.

Ms Macklin said the Regional Partnership Agreement was the culmination of five years hard work and dedication by the local working group.

“These local organisations have displayed the kind of collaboration and perseverance essential to ensuring governments’ efforts are locally directed and focused on delivering positive outcomes for Aboriginal people,” Ms Macklin said.

The New South Wales Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Paul Lynch, said today’s signing marked an important step forward in working together to close the gap in the IIlawarra.

“This agreement sets out a plan for both governments and the 17 local Aboriginal organisations to work to over the next three years,” Mr Lynch said.

“It identifies key actions the local community wants to see both governments make, as well as areas where the community can step up and be more involved.”

The Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said the agreement set an important base from which we can work together to build on the strength of our community.

The Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones, said the involvement of the Indigenous community in the Illawarra would ensure that new services were developed to meet local needs.

The New South Wales Member for Shellharbour, Lylea McMahon, said she looked forward to working with these organisations to build a strong, independent future for local Aboriginal people.

Regional Partnership Agreements are a commitment by the Australian and state and territory governments, Aboriginal community representatives and other stakeholders to work together to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage.

They are a practical way to identify priority needs and set out a plan to deliver coordinated services, eliminating duplication and gaps.

The Australian Government has 12 regional partnership agreements, including in the Murdi Paaki Region of NSW, Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island in the Northern Territory, Port Hedland in Western Australia and the Western Cape region of North Queensland.