On Monday, 31 March another milestone was achieved in the partnership between GenerationOne and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. I was fortunate enough to sit with the Minister For Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion and Rob Gordon, CEO of AtWork Australia to celebrate the launch of the third GenerationOne VTEC. The launch was held in the foyer of the Perth’s Crown Metropol Complex.
This VTEC will service the hospitality industry and provide opportunities for 200 Indigenous jobseekers to break free from the shackles and constraints of welfare as they walk into workforce.
Perth’s first VTEC will work with three principal organisations. AtWork Australia is the primary contract holder while Indigenous Work About will deliver cultural competence, mentoring and post placement support and Polytechnic West will fill the role of Registered Training Provider.
Each Indigenous job seeker will have the opportunity to be placed into work with significant organisations like Compass Group, who have been trailblazers in Indigenous employment for over a decade. Crown, Sodexo, Morris Corp and Spotless have also been great employment partners who are all critical to the success of VTECs.
Monday’s launch was a major milestone and I was humbled to be asked by Nyoongar, Wadjuk Elders to support them during their Welcome to Country. I was reminded - as I played the Yigi Yigi (the Didgeridoo) softly beneath the words of these beautiful elders - that they were seeing change once never thought possible.
Uncle reiterated that there was a time when he was not permitted to walk into such a venue. Now, the next generation is being offered the opportunity to be seen, to be considered and to achieve their own independence and respect through employment with such organisations.
As I stood to speak, I took a breath as I always do, and thought this is it. We are creating the change that needs to be created. Ghandi said, “Be the change you dream to see,” and the Didgeridoo - when it was first given to me by my Grandfather - was a ‘Hollow Hope’ that I filled with my future.
I am continually driven by my dream that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will achieve true equality in my lifetime. That one day, our children will live in a time where there is no longer a gap that needs to be closed.
This dream is real, but it will take the voice and effort of all Australia. It will take an effort that is driven by the people and driven by corporate Australia and then supported by Government.
The Government’s $45 million commitment will translate to 5,000 Indigenous people moving from welfare into employment. VTEC is the model that will support the pathway to employment and employment is the pathway to self-empowerment. This is the pathway that will tear down the walls of disparity built by the poison of welfare.
The crippling disposition that welfare created for our proud people was never asked for. It was imposed upon us.
All of Australia must unite to remove this putrid blanket suffocating our spirit. By removing the burden of welfare we will strive for opportunities in employment and independence.