[Sub ID 4890] Back First Nation Communities (Childrens Ground)

Submission ID: 4890
Organisation name: Childrens Ground
Contact name: Mr David James
State: VIC
Contact email: David.james@childrensground.org.au
Contact number: 0416244818

Which priority group of the Try, Test and Learn Fund does your idea support?
Young carers, Young parents, Young students at risk of long-term unemployment

What need or issue are you trying to address?
We work with rural and remote Aboriginal communities, and have employed on average 50 Aboriginal people each quarter over the last four years, with a retention rate of over 75%. We currently work in four locations in Central Australia, and hope to scale to the Top End region later this year.

People in regional, rural and remote Aboriginal communities – including young people – face serious barriers which result in long term unemployment, and consequent dependency on the welfare system.

These barriers include:
• English as a second or third language
• Health and disability issues, such as hearing loss, FAS, and chronic poor health
• Poor living conditions, including overcrowding
• Loss and grief
• Strong cultural obligations, which support cultural continuity and identify, but impede people’s ability to satisfy formal employment obligations (ie: 9-5 / 5 days a week / 48 weeks pa)

Those barriers have resulted in entrenched, long-term exclusion from the workforce for many, often most, adults. This in turn means that young people lack exposure to work. These factors contribute to and combine with poor educational outcomes in the Western system, and, family and community violence. At worse, this results in young people experiencing despair and engaging in self destructive behaviours including use of alcohol and other drugs, engagement in criminal and anti-social behaviour.

What is your idea?
We work with rural and remote Aboriginal communities, and have employed on average 50 Aboriginal people each quarter, with a retention rate of over 75%. We have achieved these unprecedented results by:

  1. Adopting a community empowerment approach, rather than an approach which focuses on an individualistic approach – Western paradigms and therefore services focus on each individual, which is antithetical to First Nations culture. We work with groups of young people and support individuals within that context
  2. Fit people to jobs, rather than fit people into jobs – Every person has interests, skills and knowledge that are valuable in the workplace. We work with people to assess the contribution they wish to make, and develop jobs around that. In this way, people are engaged in work that they find meaningful, and feel confident they can do.
  3. No Failure in Employment – We first employ people on a casual basis. If people do not attend work, the only consequence is that they are not paid. This recognises the constraints people face in engaging in fixed commitments, whether because of ill-health, cultural obligations or, for example, an upset in the local community in which they live that kept them awake until 3am.