Friday 27 May marks the start of Reconciliation Week, an important date for us all.
All Australians have the right to live prosperous, safe and healthy lives. However, this is too often not the reality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Indigenous people typically live 10-17 years less than other Australians, have a higher unemployment rate, are being jailed at rates 13 times greater than non-Indigenous people and are more likely to experience racism compared to non-Indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are among the most disadvantaged people in the country.
It doesn't have to be this way. Red Cross is doing its part to change these shameful statistics.
We have increased staff numbers with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now making up 6.7% of our workforce through proactive recruitment and retention practices.
As part of our Reconciliation Action Plan we aspire to raise that figure to 9% by 2017.
Through our partner Career Trackers, another round of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander University students are gaining work experience across various departments. Another 15 trainees recruited across Australia, these roles vary from community development in Alice Springs and Tiwi Islands to administration roles in our city offices.
Building on strengths
We are building on the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by empowering them to have a voice and better control of their own lives and environments.
Like at our Wellbeing Centre in Cairns which recently was a hive of activity when visitors and staff rolled up their sleeves as part of Australia's Biggest Blood Pressure Check.
The Centre provides quality, affordable accommodation for patients and their carers who live too far from a hospital to easily access outpatient treatment. We provide guests with a safe, healing and culturally appropriate home away from home.
In remote South Australia, we supported two Aboriginal communities in South Australia take steps to be better prepared for emergencies.
Aboriginal REDiSupport training was developed by Red Cross in 2011 in response to the increasing number of emergencies in South Australia's regional areas. It is specially designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to help them prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.
Our relationship with Supply Nation is expanding through the procurement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. Supply Nation is the leading directory of Indigenous businesses, with rigorous registration and certification processes to ensure Indigenous ownership.
This relationship is being developed across all parts of the organisation from using a local Aboriginal company in Darwin to fit out our new office space, to having all photocopy paper and other stationery supplied by Aboriginal business Nallawilli.
Reconciliation Week recognises two historic events:
- The 1967 Referendum, when over 90% of Australians voted to give the Commonwealth power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.
The Mabo Decision, when the High Court of Australia legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land, which existed prior to colonalisation and still exists today.
We invite our supporters to join us: attend a Reconciliation Week event or join a national conversation by capturing reconciliation in action and uploading images to social media. Don't forget to use the National Reconciliation Week hashtag #NRW2016 and tag @RedCrossAU