SHAKE ON IT: Sunraysia Regional Consulting Inc. chairperson Don Carrazza and Member for Mallee Andrew Broad are all smiles after the fundng announcement.

By JOHN DOOLEY

INDIGENOUS jobs and education in the Mallee have been highlighted as a priority following a $6million funding boost announced by Member for Mallee Andrew Broad on Wednesday.

Aimed at advancing Indigenous outcomes in education and employment, the funding injection has been granted under the Commonwealth Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy, and will see Sunraysia Regional Consulting Inc. (SRC) and MADEC Australia share in the funding package.

SRC will receive funding of up to $1.7million to create opportunities and sustainable employment for the local Indigenous community, while MADEC will receive funding of $4.4million to provide scholarship support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

“I’m thrilled to see funding directed to these two local organisations with the sole purpose of getting children into school, adults into work and building safer communities,” Mr Broad said.

SRC chairperson, Don Carrazza, said employers are keen to embrace the programs his organisation runs, with their continued support guaranteeing the future success of the employment program.

“The support of the Federal Government through our local Federal Member Andrew Broad and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has been pivotal in securing ongoing funding for the program,” Mr Carrazza said.
He thanked Mr Broad for his strong support, which has enabled SRC to deliver positive outcomes and plan long-term.

“Funding like this gives us more security, more flexibility to undertake the programs we implement and gives us the reassurance that our organisation has longevity,” he said.

Mr Broad said that when he is seeking funds for our region, organisations with a proven track record always tend to do well.

“It’s really easy to get money into the Mallee when you have a great organisation like the SRC who have a track record of delivering, and so when I go to Canberra and say we want to get the best outcome for these people, we know they can deliver, and they are doing it really well, the funds are forthcoming,” he said.

“You’ll go to some towns in Australia and you’ll visibly see on the streets the disadvantage in the Indigenous community, but you don’t see it here because you have proactive community members who are saying, ‘This is our town and we want to make sure it’s a town of opportunity for all’, and it doesn’t just happen, it’s because of the hard work of people like Don and his team.”

SRC is a small regional independent organisation based in Mildura that has been in receipt of Federal funding either through the Indigenous Employment Program or the Tailored Assistance Employment Grants (TAEG) application process.

The employment program has operated since 2003 out of the Mildura office, and has been successful in assisting more than 1000 Indigenous participants find full or part-time work.

In this first round of funding, $1.7million will be contributed, ongoing, once 180 jobs have been secured, SRC will be eligible to apply for another round of funding, which is likely to be in 18 months time.

“We’ve proved to the Government that our organisation actually gets results and I am passionate about what we do, I’ve seen enormous improvement in our Indigenous community in both education and employment opportunities,” Mr Carrazza said.

In addition to announcing the grant to the SRC, Mr Broad visited MADEC to formally announce the funding for the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, which will secure the future of the scholarship support program which is also proving to be a great success.

Approved by Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, the almost $4.5million in funding will allow the extension of MADEC’s scholarship project to the end of December, 2020.

“MADEC has had this program since 2010, we started with five schools, we now have 23 schools and 138 students involved in our scholarship program,” MADEC Indigenous Youth Leadership Program co-ordinator, Peter Allan, said.

“We basically make it easier for disadvantaged Indigenous students to stay at secondary school, be successful and allow them to take advantage of opportunities outside the traditional educational sphere, including extra-curricular activities, sporting pursuits, music lessons, overseas travel, tutoring transitioning to tertiary education and employment, and other things they normally wouldn’t have access to.

“In choosing the students for our program, which includes an even mix of boys and girls, we give the schools a criteria to apply, which involves identifying disadvantaged students who want to be at school, and who have an idea of the direction in which they would like to go with their schooling and employment.

“We conduct an interview process where we appraise the student’s scholastic aptitude and also their attitude to their education and the community, it’s very much assessed on a case-by-case basis.”

Mr Allan pointed to some of the success stories the organisation is proud of, including the appointment of an Indigenous student as the first Aboriginal school captain in our region.

“The kids have seen other students becoming vice captains, being on student council, and so they become interested in being successful, and we see this in the transition to employment, they see there are avenues for them to take,” he said.

“We’ve had all sorts of successes, there is a girl who came from an unfortunate background, who has recently completed a four year course in Physiotherapy. At school she was the swimming club captain and she also represented at State level in lawn bowls.

“Another Indigenous lady is now running youth programs at Richmond Football Club, and in her case she was also a graduate of the National Bank traineeship, which we assist students to participate in.”

MADEC is one of only nine scholarship providers throughout Australia to see approved funding under the strategy.

“The point of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy is to deliver real results in Australian communities and this funding is a great start, increasing employment and education opportunities is vital to building a stronger community,” Mr Broad said.

“I looked at the figures today and in the four years since I became the Federal Member for Mallee, we have injected $988million into the region, this announcement takes us to $994million, I need to get another $6million and we’ll crash the one billion dollar mark.

“For those people who say nothing much happens in our patch, it’s amazing to see how much money is actually coming in, and I look forward to working with these great organisations to deliver better outcomes for Indigenous Australians in our region.”