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You are here: Home / UrbanGrowth, SMDA & RWA Plans & Activities / Government, UG, SMDA & RWA Statements / 2008 / RWA evidence to Inquiry into Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage - 29 April 2008

RWA evidence to Inquiry into Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage - 29 April 2008

Below we have extracted the RWA Evidence from the Uncorrected transcript of Tuesday 29 April 2008 of the Inquiry into Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage as this evidence places some information on the public record about the RWA activities which is not otherwise available. Please check the link at the bottom of this page for the link to the original transcript which may in the future contain any corrections.

JULIE PARSONS, Acting Manager Community Relations, Redfern-Waterloo Authority, and

BERYL VAN-OPLOO, Manager/Teacher, Redfern-Waterloo Authority Hospitality Training School, sworn and examined:

ROBERT PETER DOMM, Chief Executive Officer, Redfern-Waterloo Authority, and

DENNY HALL, Principal Project Manager, Training, Enterprise and Employment, Redfern-Waterloo Authority, sworn and affirmed:

CHAIR: Thank you for being with us on Gadigal land. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. Perhaps you have had a chat amongst yourselves as to how you wish to proceed with your opening comments about the Redfern-Waterloo Authority and its role et cetera.

Mr DOMM: With your leave I would like to do two things. Firstly I would like to hand up a newsletter which has been distributed throughout the Redfern Waterloo area this week, which is an update on activities and it does contain specific reference to indigenous job opportunities and so on. I would refer that newsletter to the attention of the Committee as an update on some of the material that is contained within the submission that we put in by 30 November. Secondly, I would ask the leave to allow Auntie Beryl Van-Oploo to make the opening statement and give some of her own personal experiences about the situation of Aboriginal people in Redfern-Waterloo and the importance of training and employment in improving addressing the issue of social disadvantage.

Ms VAN-OPLOO: Thank you for having me here this afternoon. It is a great privilege to be here and to be heard for the first time. I personally myself have been out there for 50-odd years in the workforce with limited education. I have come from a background where I self-educated. I have always wanted to take my education back to the community—that was the goal in life. From a very early age I worked whatever job I could. I have always worked in communities whether it be in the Sydney region or whether it be in country areas. We have never really had an opportunity that we can have a voice to voice our own opinions. This is the first time I have ever sat before a committee and voiced my opinion. The thing is I have seen over the 50 years that I have been out there in the workforce that nothing has really happened with building these bridges. Believe you me I have been around Australia to remote areas. I have travelled Australia to every major city and every major town. To me personally it is appalling.

I have done a lot of work in Redfern. I have worked for TAFE for 20-odd years as a teacher/trainer in hospitality. It was hard for me there. At the time—and I am being truthful—there was a lot of racism because I had an education and I was not allowed to have an education. There was a lot of good people there that helped me through the way and I stuck in there but the goal was to take it back to the community. I achieved that. I argued to take the education back to the community. The community will not come here. If you do not educate the parents then you have got no way of educating the children. I fortunately had oldies that always told me to go and get an education and I instilled that in my own children—now they are all academic people out there in the workforce—and my grandchildren will have a choice. I think everybody has the right to have a choice in life.

This is what I am giving these people now that are disadvantaged through the Redfern-Waterloo Authority. I was retired and they made me offer. I did not take the offer straight away because I thought this was going to be another one of those things that they build you up and then they let you down. But I thought about it and I thought I will give it a go for 12 months and with all the support from Robert and the team it has worked. We have only been there 12 months. I have got people out in the workforce that would have no idea of how to go out and get a job. To me that is so great. This morning one of the girls got a job and she had a smile from ear to ear.

The other thing is that we have started off another course and I have got eight people from The Block—I have to tell you this. To me that is a major achievement. They are not only young people; they are parents. If you educate the parents then you educate the young people. I think that is what we need. I do a lot of hard yards as well but my being there as a support person has given them confidence. They have come down there by themselves. The word is out there, that what we are doing with the Redfern-Waterloo Authority is working. Just to see those young people go out and get the job or they will ring me up from juvenile justice and say, "Aunt, can you take one of the boys or one of the girls. We really don't want to put them out there." So I have taken them on and now I can gladly say that one of the girls who did something really horrendous is back at TAFE doing a course that she wants to do. She is getting her life back on track by coming to us—it was like a stepping-stone. If I can keep one of those kids off the street and give them some sort of life or education then so be it. Without people like Robert and Denny and Julie and, like I say, my other team back there—there is only Matthew and I, he is the chef—to see how we have grown in 12 months is just amazing and to see that the word is out there now in the community. I have already been out to Mt Druitt and we are doing a day on 6 or 8 May so they can get the people to come in from out there.

I am training younger people to take over from where I am leaving off when I do eventually step back, which is in the cards within a few years. But for now it is absolutely working in Redfern and I can see the changes. Not only that, the community is so proud of what we are doing. The Elders come down and believe it or not they sit outside and have a cappuccino—they have never had a cappuccino in their life. They come down and have parties and meals. We run a catering service as well, so we have in-house functions where the students get hands-on training. We had 60 people there last Wednesday night and the people that came did not stop complementing us on the service. I was so proud because that is what it is all about.

We do work in conjunction with the Alexandria Park Community School. I work with all the schools within the area so that if there is a dropout I will take that person on board and then eventually I would rather them go back to school and finish school—it is just not in the cards for some of them but a lot of them to go back to school when they are at an early age. We are in the heart of the community—we are on Wilson Street. It is not only the Redfern community that supports everything; it is the communities within the Sydney region and country areas. I can see this program that we run would work in remote areas, it would work in a small country town on a smaller scale but it is a matter of getting out there. I always talk to my niece—a teacher at Walgett High School where I come from—and she said the kids are starting to change a little bit.

They all know about me. If I can just get it out there it would make one hell of a difference for everybody. I would like to take it to the Kimberley's and I would love to take it to Kakadu and Western Australia because they are people that really need something. At the end of the day what we are doing down there is training people to get real jobs. When they get real jobs it makes one hell of a difference in their lives. That is what it is all about with us and me and working as a team and getting them to work as a team themselves. Believe you me for those people to come from The Block under their own self-esteem is just amazing. I hope it does continue.

CHAIR: Thank you very much for your opening comments.

Dr JOHN KAYE: Mr Domm, I wanted to ask you some questions about some specific aspects of the development and the impact that will have on the Aboriginal community. I do that in the context that this is obviously one model that is being tried and therefore it is relevant to us. The issue with your particular strategies, as I understand it, is that in any of the developments that you propose there will be no new schools? Is that correct? You are not providing any schools? For example, you are selling off Redfern Public and Rachel Foster but there is no new education institutions being provided at the primary or secondary level?

Mr DOMM: The decision to close the Redfern school was taken some time before the Redfern-Waterloo Authority was established. I understand that was concomitant with a significant upgrading of the Alexandria Park school to cater for—I think the Redfern school was down to about 50 students. There was a decision made, based on the demographics of the area, that that school was surplus to requirements and Alexandria Park school from all I have seen seems to be quite a strong success story. In terms of increases in population, stage one of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Built Environment Plan is premised mainly on commercial development and jobs. We only envisage 2,000 dwellings under stage one of that plan, which probably translates to 3,000 or so new residents in the area. So it is not seen that will have a significant impact in terms of demands for new schools.

Dr JOHN KAYE: Are you presuming that the 3,000 new residents will be infertile?

Mr DOMM: No.

Dr JOHN KAYE: They will have children.

Mr DOMM: And the existing schools are able to cater for whatever children may be there.

Dr JOHN KAYE: If you are going to increase the population by 3,000, will that not put additional stress on existing services, in particular, education services? There is no new provision for educational capacity?

Mr DOMM: That is a matter for the Department of Education. They believe that the existing school facilities are capable of meeting expected growth. I agree with that position.

Dr JOHN KAYE: You agree with the position of the Department of Education?

Mr DOMM: Yes.

Dr JOHN KAYE: One of the issues the Redfern-Waterloo Authority has spoken about is jobs creation by this development. Is it your position that the jobs created will benefit the Aboriginal community in Redfern and Waterloo?

Mr DOMM: It already has.

Dr JOHN KAYE: The additional development is commercial and light industrial, is it?

Mr DOMM: We have set up the Yaama Dhiyaan Indigenous Training College, which has a hospitality training function and downstairs runs Koori job courses in construction. Obviously in the early stages of the urban renewal project construction jobs are the jobs that are coming online. Therefore, we are training people to become job ready. Already under the indigenous employment model, which we developed, we have created 240 Aboriginal jobs. At the back page of that update I have given you, you will see a recent explanation of how that model is starting to be applied in areas outside of Redfern and Waterloo, but even inside Redfern and Waterloo with private sector developments and other government agencies, the council, the Commonwealth Government for example and other State government agencies. So the applicability of that model is starting to spread and that is an indication that it is working and is being successful.

So we have already achieved a significant amount in terms of job creation in the construction industry. In fact, every person we put through a Koori job-ready course in construction, we guarantee them a job at the end of it in urban renewal in Redfern and Waterloo. In terms of hospitality training, obviously we are not running hotels but we have formed partnerships with major hotel groups and other employers of hospitality graduates and we are able to feed people into those jobs. My team, headed up by Denny Hall—and she can comment further—is also expanding into other areas and industries where we see there are labour shortages and the capacity for people to be trained and go into employment. The transport industry is one such industry. It needs to be borne in mind that the Aboriginal community of Redfern-Waterloo in terms of the census statistics is about 4 per cent of the community. In other words, on the 2001 census I believe it is less than 800 people. So when you are creating 240 jobs in construction, hospitality and other areas, you are starting to have quite a major impact, even if numerically it does not seem a huge amount to you today.

In the leaflet I have given you we say over the next 5 to 10 years we can create 8,000 construction jobs in the Eveleigh precinct alone, and about 800 of those construction jobs will be for Aboriginal people. Of course, the critical thing is you can create the training and the construction jobs because they are the jobs that are coming online in that area in the early phases of an urban renewal project. The next stage has to be getting people into permanent jobs that are created after those new employment centres have been established. That is the big challenge for us in moving forward.

Dr JOHN KAYE: That was my next question. Given that most of the Aboriginal community from which you would be recruiting for these jobs already has ready access to the central business district [CBD] which has a number of these types of jobs, what are you going to do that is different to create jobs for Aboriginal people in this urban renewal project?

Mr DOMM: What we do is where there are construction projects on government-owned land or where the Government has an influence, we use that influence to ensure that targets are locked into the construction project before it starts.

Dr JOHN KAYE: That is fine for construction, but I am talking about post-construction.

Mr DOMM: Part of our contract, for example, for the Channel 7 development at the Australian Technology Park is that we have locked in 60 construction jobs for Aboriginal people. But we also have a commitment from Channel 7 that they will sit down with us in two years' time when it is finished and the employees are coming online to talk about how we can get Aboriginal people working in the television industry. We are creating those linkages as we go through. There is not much point talking about how many jobs will be at Channel 7 when they will not be there until 2010. You have to build the production studios first before the jobs are actually there.

Dr JOHN KAYE: If we are to accept that the redevelopment is good news for the Aboriginal community, it needs to be bringing jobs and economic development to the Aboriginal community. You have not explained to me why this particular set of developments will do what the CBD has failed to do in providing ready access to jobs.

Mr DOMM: Ms Hall is chomping at the bit, but before I throw to her I will say that I think I have already answered that question. We are creating the essential linkages with culturally appropriate training and mentoring to address the failures of the past, and it is proving successful. The figures speak for themselves. You do not have to believe me; just look at the jobs that are being created. It is because we have got proper training in place, we have got Aboriginal elders like Aunty Beryl who are widely respected within the community and are able to get people to attend training courses and keep them there. When they go out to the workforce we employ Aboriginal mentors to work with them in the workforce to ensure that if they are having a problem or they are missing from work we go after them and try to find out what the problem is. In other words, we have created a model that is fairly simple and fairly straightforward but culturally appropriate, and it is working.

Ms HALL: Going back to your point about why it is different than the mass of jobs that are available in the CBD for Aboriginal people, the jobs in the CBD are not for Aboriginal people and there are no programs in place for many of that employment in the CBD that produces a product that Aboriginal people can relate to. We spend quite a lot of time working in the community talking to Aboriginal people and being guided by two major elders about what makes a successful program. I think Aunty Beryl has articulated that fairly clearly about it being community based. It has to be culturally appropriate and it has to be professionally run at a really high standard. More importantly, you do not train unless you have a job because the Aboriginal population is over-trained. There are so many training programs that do not lead to employment.

What Aboriginal people need to go through—and I think Aunty Beryl has expressed it—is a change of self-confidence, a change of skill levels. It is being in an environment where they can feel confident and secure and safe to make mistakes. Because in the wider community when they make a mistake they are not accepted. So it is being able to be a student, being able to learn in a culturally appropriate environment and being ready to go to work. That is why in the training we do we are very particular. It has to be full-time and it cannot be for any less than eight weeks. Because it is not just training people in vocational skills; we are actually training people to work. As you know, in many of these families nobody has worked for three generations. There is not a culture of work. There are no examples of anybody they know who has been to work. The family does not get up in the morning because it stays up all night. It does not have food on the table for breakfast.

All these things, you think might be insurmountable. I suppose the thing I want to say is that it has been quite amazing at how quickly the community has responded. I do not know if you understand when Aunty Beryl says that she has got eight people from The Block. These people have not got out of their pyjamas in two years; they are ex-junkies. They really believe that there is a future for them. What we found in the Aboriginal community is that if you can assist one person in that family, then it has a ripple effect. If we get 16-year-old Dylan into a job on a construction site, his mother is interested in what is going to happen to her and Dylan's brothers and sisters start going to school. It is a funny thing, we do not understand it; we have never lived that life. We do not really understand it. From an outsider's perspective it is if they can believe that change is possible, that people really care enough to put something together for them, then they take advantage of it.

We have got graduates from hospitality in the major hotel in Sydney at Shangri-La. We are placing them with companies all over the place. We like to place them in companies so they get a very big career choice. They might enter on a particular level but in a major company there is no reason for them once they have started that they could not go up to senior management. If you are talking about and want to focus on the commercial jobs that are available, we are putting together at the moment a package around that because we need to be ready for when the doors open. We want to have those arrangements in place so that the administrative people are trained, they are ready to go and we can try to get them into some work before the doors open. So their confidence is built and they can take advantage of those opportunities.

There is a major opportunity right in their community. We have said also that if you have a look at where the skills shortages are in Australia at the moment, the logistics, transport and warehousing industries have been highlighted. We are developing partnerships in those industries so that we can link up, provide the appropriate training and match it with the demands of the industry so that there is that seamlessness to employment. When we achieve that, that is when we have success. If we do not do that right we do not have success. If you are asking why other people have not been able to achieve it, it is because they have not done it right. The big issue that we have been able to show is that we have a model and we have developed it and refined it. That model can be duplicated. It is based on those really simple principles that you must do. You must have the mentors, you must have the follow-up, you must have Aboriginal leaders, you must have Aboriginal faces in the classroom. When you do that the success rate is unbelievable. We are running at somewhere between 75 per cent to 80 per cent success rate in getting people into employment. I do not think there is another model around that is currently doing that.

CHAIR: Do you have any links with Alexandria Park Public School in terms of mentoring?

Ms HALL: Definitely.

Mr DOMM: We have very strong links with the school. In fact, we run programs within the school. I might ask Ms Parsons to say a few words about some of the human services aspects as they relate to the school.

Ms PARSONS: Since the Human Services Plan phase one was developed in 2005, obviously the Department of Education is very strongly involved. The Human Services Plan phase one directly looks at linking with children and young families. So a lot of the actions contained in it are directly linked to Alexandria Park Community School—things like a mentoring program for young Aboriginal men by old Aboriginal gentlemen. There is the NASCAR Sporting Chance program that we are involved with where we are using sport as a link to keep young Aboriginal children in school. Once again we are very heavily involved in that. There is the Nation Project, which Mr Parks spoke about just before, which we convene and provide secretarial support for. We support the school with young people at risk. There is dialogue and discussion every day. It is a growing process. There is also the Connect Redfern program, which looks at the very young children with playgroups and those sorts of activities that the Redfern-Waterloo Authority is actively involved with. There are a range of those sorts of things.

CHAIR: Auntie Beryl, did you say you have been out there to the school?

Ms VAN-OPLOO: Yes. I have had long links with it before it was Alexandria Park school and it was Cleveland Street High School. That is how long the link is. It has changed over the years, of course. We take students for work experience because they have got nowhere else to go or they go into the city and come back. I have had one come back to me from Darling Harbour because they did not like it in there, they did not feel comfortable. So we take the students for work experience at our premises. Then they go into a career because they can talk it through with me. I am there as their mentor. I am everything there. I am the psychologist, psychiatrist—name it, I'm it. Then I speak to them like their nan or their aunt. I can also talk to their parents. It all seems to work out for the best. As I said, I have had very strong ties with the school since the Cleveland Street days. They then moved it to Alexandria Park. Even when I was teaching at TAFE I went off campus and taught the students there. I fought with TAFE to take the education to them. Somehow I managed it, but do not ask me how. It was a big success. If we all work together these things can happen.

People are forgetting that there are not many Aboriginal families left in the area. There are 13 families left on The Block. There are young mothers who go to Campbelltown and then come back to Redfern because they are not happy out there. Redfern has always been our home and it always will be. We are providing the missing link; that is, education. We are getting out into the community. This morning a lad came in and asked when the construction course would start. I told him that it had already started. He said that they are offering jobs on the new Channel 7 site and on the construction of the sports facilities at the school. I told him that it was out in the community already. It is word of mouth in our community. They would not pick up a newspaper and read it because 80 per cent of people my age are illiterate. People forget that. It is word of mouth, and then people will know.

Our children are illiterate. I have to scribe for them. That is why I have set up the program at the school where I am teaching now to suit the community. All modules are in a folder because I developed them. I was a TAFE teacher. They are core modules, so when they go out they have a certificate II and then they have other certificates that we get them to do off campus. Without my support and the support of the teachers they would not be able to do those things.

The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: You have been provided with some questions on notice. I will refer to a couple of them and seek your response. The second question asks you to explain the Redfern-Waterloo Authority's proposed share equity model of home ownership. Can you provide some detail about that proposal?

Mr DOMM: I got into trouble a year our so ago at the budget estimates hearings when I answered that question by saying that that forms part of stage two of the built environment plan and that we had not started working on that. I tried to be helpful and answer some questions and dug myself a hole. Stage two of the built environment plan has commenced and we are working actively with the Department of Housing on revitalisation of the public housing estates and trying to see what potential that creates for new and better public housing and also an element of affordable housing, including the potential for some sort of shared equity home ownership scheme.

The leaflet I handed out today indicates that on Saturday the Minister for Redfern Waterloo, the Hon. Frank Sartor, announced a major affordable housing initiative at North Eveleigh. The concept plan for the redevelopment, which is going on exhibition this week, will contain between 150 and 200 affordable rental dwellings. That comprises about 12 per cent to 16 per cent of total dwellings on that site. The total is estimated to be about 1,260. That is a very high percentage of dwellings. However, I emphasise the word "rental". In other words, we made a strategic decision in respect of that site that affordable rental dwellings would be a more enduring solution than a one-off, lower-cost sale process. There are two ways to provide affordable housing: one is to sell at an affordable rate and the other is to set affordable rental rates. We have made the decision that the more enduring solution in North Eveleigh is for the Government to set aside the land from the sale process and then to use developer levies to construct the dwellings over the development horizon of the project and retain them in ownership and use them for low-cost rental accommodation.

When it comes to stage two of the built environment plan and looking at the public housing estates we are still not at the point at which we have started to work out the detail of a shared equity home ownership scheme. Therefore, I am not able to go into any detail in respect of that today. However, the underlying philosophy of that proposal is whether we can find a way whereby low-income, disadvantaged people living in public housing can in some way gain a stake in that housing so that they can generate wealth through capital growth. Having said that, there is no proposal to sell public housing or anything like that. We need to look at what is happening interstate and overseas to see whether there is some capacity to create wealth through a shared equity scheme. We have not come to any conclusions about that and ultimately it will go to Cabinet and a decision will be made. That is all I can say about shared equity at this stage.

The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: A witness earlier today said that the indigenous community in Redfern feels comfortable in Redfern; it is an environment they know and many have lived there for a long time, or at least part of their life. They have some anxiety about leaving the precinct to come into the CBD, for example, to take up employment opportunities, or even more broadly outside the CBD and other parts of Sydney. Given that many job opportunities are available around the greater Sydney metropolitan area, are there ways and means over time of encouraging Aboriginals to leave and to work outside the Redfern area and then come back in the evening? On the other hand, was the earlier witness wrong in that observation? It was certainly stated that there is some anxiety about leaving Redfern to work.

Mr DOMM: I have met Aboriginal people who will go anywhere to work in the Sydney metropolitan area, in the country or even interstate. I have also met the people described who feel more comfortable within a certain zone. That is one of the reasons we have emphasised mentoring in the employment projects we have developed. Aboriginal people can feel alienated working in Redfern at a particular work site if there are no other Aboriginal people there just as they can feel alienated in an unfamiliar place outside Redfern. It comes back to the culturally appropriate mechanisms in place. It must be recognised that this is an issue for some people, but not all. Where it is an issue there should be mechanisms to address it. Mentoring is a key to reassuring people that they are okay where they are. It is always better if we can send Aboriginal people to a work site where there are other Aboriginals. The Redfern-Waterloo Authority employs a number of Aboriginal staff and we have staff at the Australian Technology Park, which we own. We encourage those people to communicate with each other and if they are having an issue to talk to each other so that they do not feel isolated in any way in the workplace.

Ms HALL: Entry-level training must be in the community, otherwise it will not happen. After that it must be mainstreamed. With construction we run an eight-week job ready course and give them a broad taste of construction so that they understand what trade or profession they might want to pursue. Our aim is to get them an apprenticeship or traineeship. All that training is done by TAFE at an appropriate college. We want to mainstream Aboriginal people once they have confidence. We are trying to explain with regard to hospitality that we have no real leverage over jobs. However, we have very successfully negotiated for our graduates to be placed in work outside Redfern. They are everywhere across Sydney in the top hotels, at cafes and restaurants and with catering companies. If they have the confidence to work anywhere, they are on their way. That is our aim.

We do have mentors who follow those people until they are feeling relaxed and their confidence is high. However, we never let them go. We find it beneficial to have someone keeping an eye on them and being there to talk with them if they have trouble at work. When we first place them on a job, our mentors are there once a week. That starts slipping out as the person is more comfortable. We keep in contact with them and visit them on the job. There is definitely an advantage in having Aboriginal people working throughout the community wherever the jobs are. They do not oppose that once their confidence is high enough.

Ms VAN-OPLOO: We trained a girl down here who went home to Lismore. She is working there and keeps in contact with us. She was there for only two weeks and found employment. Her husband, who was a junky—I am saying that freely because that is how I speak to them and they know all the details—is now working as well. I am very proud of that family getting it together. It does happen for us. However, as I said, we have never really had the opportunity, it has never been there. How I got this far, I do not know. The spirits must be looking after me. It is happening and it is positive, and I want it to continue. Eventually I would like to see our own indigenous enterprise in the heart of the community. We can continue training young people and doing the work that I have done over the years. My journey now is to turn it into an indigenous enterprise. I can see that happening in a short time. We have been there for only 12 months and it is excelling.

Some of our students are managers at one work site. They have also set up their own catering company. It is all happening. It is a steppingstone. I direct them to TAFE if they want to do an apprenticeship. I will always been be there to support them. If they have that support, it can happen for all of us. I can see changes in education with Aboriginal people. They want education and a job. Some of the boys and girls have gone for work experience at the Reserve Bank at a couple of the compass sites. They say they cannot go up that far because they have never been in a lift before and they are going up 40 floors. They were asked whether they wanted employment. Some of the young lads are only 16 or 17 years old and they are taking up apprenticeships. It is a bonus for me and the communities. I think I speak for the many of the Aboriginal people in Redfern and Waterloo, which is where I spend most of my time. I hope we can spend more time there to see this up and running and create an indigenous enterprise to allow us to be self-sufficient. That is my journey.

CHAIR: Without being intrusive, bureaucratic or big brother-ish, do you have systems to monitor and to assess the successes, to build on them and to make the story stronger and the outcomes better? Do you have systems to track these kids?

Ms VAN-OPLOO: Yes. I never do anything unless I know I am going to get an outcome. I have learnt over the years.

CHAIR: In 12 months will someone somewhere be able to go to either a file or a DVD and look at some exit stories about each of the apprenticeships?

Ms VAN-OPLOO: Oh yes, that is happening now. We are putting all that together. I would not want to lose that. What I do need to tell you is that a lot of these people, they come to us. This morning in class I asked did any of them eat kangaroo, because we specialises in indigenous cuisine. Not one Aboriginal person put up their hand. Did you taste crocodile? Not one person. So, I teach culture as well. I make them aware of their own culture and I also bring everyone else's culture into the classroom as well because they have to learn to respect one another. That is my philosophy.

Mr DOMM: I think Aunty Beryl made a comment earlier about going back when we started off, not that long ago, that there was a bit of distrust and cynicism towards these sorts of programs. There were good reasons for that. Too much in the past governments had concentrated in a well-intentioned way on training scheme after training scheme as if that was an end in itself. We have adopted the position from the very beginning that training is just the start of the process, the start of the journey if you like. It enables people to commence the journey, which is a journey into meaningful employment.

In answer to your question, I refer you to page 19 of our submission. You will see statistics there that indicate that as at November last year we are tracking where those students in the hospitality training are going, for example. There are only 5 per cent of those students where we could say there was no contact. You are always going to lose track of some people. That is simply unavoidable because some people do not have the means to be contacted. Even if they are around they do not have mobile phones or whatever, emails. The point is that with only 5 per cent there has been a lack of contact and the majority of those people have gone into employment or are doing further training or whatever. It is critical for us, and we say to them when they graduate, that we are here for them on that journey, and it is not just the training course, that is just the start of that process.

CHAIR: Their footprint is going to be there and their story is going to be told, good bad or indifferent?

Mr DOMM: Exactly.

Ms VINE: That is right.

(The witnesses withdrew)

Link to Inquiry: 

Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage Link to Transcript 29/04/2008   (495 KB PDF)