Speech - Call for continuation of support to Close the Gap

13 February 2014

13 February 2014 Sharon Claydon has called on the Federal Government to continue funding vital programs and initiatives that are playing an important role in closing the gap.Sharon Claydon has called on the Federal Government to continue funding vital programs and initiatives that are playing an important role in closing the gap. In her address to Parliament today, Ms Claydon emphasised the importance and success of initiatives in Newcastle including the recent Deadly Choices Festival of Indigenous Rugby League and children and family centres in Wickham and Waratah. She also highlighted the successful indigenous higher education programs delivered by the Wollotuka Institute at the University of Newcastle. Excerpts from delivery below Children and Family Centres Yesterday I met with members of SNAICC, the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, who are concerned for the ongoing viability of 38 Children and Family Centres across Australia. The funding basis for the centres is currently under review and due to end on 30 June this year. The centres play a vital role in the communities in which they exist, allowing integrated and flexible service delivery of early childhood education and health initiatives. Their role extends far beyond child care for pre-schoolers and extends into the broader ecology of the community. They deliver early intervention initiatives like transition to school programs that are directly linked to improved outcomes at school, and help to the build relationships between the community and the formal school setting. The centres also play a key role in employment and training for adults. There are real employment opportunities and access to higher education training and certification. The centres arent just in remote locations, they are in urban hubs and regional cities, like Newcastle. The Dale Young Mothers Program in Waratah and Awabakal MACS Childcare in Wickham are in danger without the assurance and delivery of ongoing funding. Successful tertiary education programs at the University of Newcastle My electorate of Newcastle is proudly home to Australias leader in tertiary Indigenous education, in the University of Newcastle. Through the Wollotuka Institute at the university, a centre focused on fostering and developing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander study and employment, more than of 1,130 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students have graduated, with more than 800 students currently enrolled. Almost half of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors in Australia graduated from the universitys medical program, with 51 more enrolled in the current entry program. And the university employs more Indigenous staff members than any other university in Australia, with more than double the industry average. The University of Newcastle is helping to close the gap and I hope they are turned to for advice when we look at how we can systematically improve access and success in higher education for indigenous students. Deadly Choices Another fantastic initiative that is doing great things in Newcastle is the Deadly Choices campaign, launched by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health and funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health & Ageing. Deadly Choices aims to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to make healthy choices for themselves and their families to stop smoking, to eat good food and exercise daily. Deadly Choices also encourages indigenous peoples to access their local health service and complete a Health Check not just to see the Doctor when they are sick but visit their health service and access support to prevent or better manage their chronic disease and remain healthy. Last week the Deadly Choices commemorative rugby league jersey was launched in Newcastle as part of the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League. The festival was a wonderful exhibition of how sport, physical activity and positive role modelling can make a difference to the lives of both indigenous and non-indigenous people. Initiatives like Deadly Choices are helping to close the gap.