Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan has celebrated the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Indi following the release of the 2017 Closing the Gap report.
Ms McGowan said that while there is much work to be done nationally, local indigenous communities are providing inspiration and innovative ideas.
“When our focus is on ending the disadvantage and closing the gap, we should not overlook the many successes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Ms McGowan said.
Ms McGowan met with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community representatives from Indi in December to discuss opportunities for allied health outreach services and working together.
“Communities in Indi are rising to the challenge. People are doing things that are innovative and creative,” Ms McGowan said.
“The Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service, largely funded by Commonwealth Department of Health, employs 50 staff, of whom 25 are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, looking after between 3500 and 4000 clients a year.
“Last year Federal Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt visited Benalla and met representatives of the Central Hume Primary Care Partnership which has auspiced the Advance Care Planning program in East Hume and on the Border.
“In November I attended Marngrook Family Footy Event at Bright. The traditional owners of Bright are Dhudhuroa and their language is taught as part of a program at Bright P-12. More than 40 kids a year learn this language.
Ms McGowan reflected on the experiences of two constituents volunteering in her parliamentary office.
Judith Ahmat is a proud Gunditjmara woman who co-founded Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) in 1994 and is on the board of Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service (AWAHS).
Tahlia Biggs is a future young leader who volunteers with KGI REAL (Korin Gamadji, Richmond Emerging Aboriginal Leaders) Program as a mentor and facilitator. She mentors young Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander youth around education, voting, health and well-being.
“Judith Ahmat and Tahlia Biggs came to Canberra and met with Ken Wyatt and Linda Burney. They have invited Minister Wyatt to return to Indi in the near future and meet with their own communities.”
Ms McGowan said that with employment of indigenous people at 42.8% compared to a non-Indigenous employment rate of 72.9% across the electorate, there was still work to be done.
Ms McGowan has invited Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion to visit Indi in the coming months to meet with community and launch the procurement policy.
“I will continue to call on the Government to listen to the communities that they serve, to learn from the success stories and innovations, and to continue to back Indigenous businesses.
“Finally I call on the Indi community to stay engaged and continue to inspire the next generation of leaders.”
Image: Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan, Ms Judith Ahmat, Minister for Indigenous Health Senator Ken Wyatt and Ms Tahlia Biggs