• Dunghutti woman, Bronwyn Murray, obtained her licence and now works in personal care. (SBS)Source: SBS
From interviewing skills to obtaining a drivers licence, a pilot program aims to help more than 2,000 Indigenous people step into the workforce.
Shahni Wellington

18 Dec 2019 - 8:59 PM  UPDATED 18 Dec 2019 - 8:59 PM

A $10 million dollar program is being rolled out across Northern New South Wales to remove employment barriers for Aboriginal people.

The trial program aims to give 2,000 job-seekers in places like Coffs Harbour and Kempsey better access to training services, and also help in obtaining things like birth registration, a birth certificate, or a driver licence.

Dunghutti woman, Bronwyn Murray, has been one of the first people to go through the 'Momentum' program.

She was previously a carer for her mother and brother for many years.

Without a driver’s licence, Bronwyn struggled to find mainstream employment and says job services had placed her in the 'too hard' basket.

"Jobs I applied for needed people with a licence," she said.

"Not having a licence limited me to more or less staying at home.

"I couldn't get out and look for jobs, I had to rely on people to take me shopping, go to the doctors, even for sorry business."

The state government-funded project is delivered by local organisations, including Aboriginal employment agency, 'Real Futures' in Kempsey. 

It was there Bronwyn overcame her employment barriers by getting behind the wheel.

"They helped me with my driving lessons, and then they helped finance my licence, and now that I got a licence – I got a job," she said.

"I’m doing things and I’m helping a lot of people and now I’m looking forward to making money to buy my own car."

Participants will be referred to the program through 'Momentum Roadshows' that will take place in regions including Richmond-Tweed, New England and North West, Coffs Harbour–Grafton, Mid North Coast, Hunter Valley, and Newcastle and Port Macquarie.

Regional Manager at Real Futures in Kempsey, Melissa Fernando, says the program can also help with other costly services.

"All of the on-boarding requirements with finding employment - Police checks, Working with Children checks, just building up their confidence, helping them with interview skills –whatever we need to do, really to just build them up and make them successful, and find sustainable employment," Ms Fernando said.

A little assistance for big outcomes

The latest New South Wales Auditor-General report shows fewer than half of eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people held a drivers licence, compared with 70% of the non-Indigenous population.

It can be a major issue when trying to secure a job and even harder for those living in remote and regional areas that don’t have access to public transport.

While a seemingly specific program, the New South Wales Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, says it is part of a bigger economic picture.  

"The governments are always focused on big spends – sometimes small spends, 10 million dollars over a four year program will help people find meaningful work, and the feedback that we've received is that it's little things like this - assistance that can be provided, that can make a difference to peoples live," Mr Perrottet said.

The full program is expected to be rolled out in the second half of 2020.


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