Media release: Supporting Indigenous Australians during National Reconciliation Week
The Hon Michael Keenan MP
National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June) is a time to celebrate Australia’s rich Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and to reflect on how to continue to strengthen the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The Department of Human Services has more than 70 specialist Indigenous Service Officers across Australia to help Indigenous Australians living in urban, rural, regional and remote communities.
These specialist staff can link people to a range of departmental services including family payments, ABSTUDY, remote community services, childcare benefits, Medicare services, social workers and outreach services.
Free Indigenous interpreting services are also available to Indigenous Australians, either face to face and over the phone. So far this financial year, the Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service and Aboriginal Interpreting Western Australia have provided over 8,791 hours of interpreting services to the Australian community.
The phone interpreting service provides Indigenous language interpreters in eight commonly spoken Northern and Central Australian Aboriginal languages.
In addition, Australian Hearing has over 100 expert audiologists providing services to over 230 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. They support around 10,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout Australia, of which about half are children.
For over 30 years, Australian Hearing’s outreach program has helped to improve hearing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in remote communities.
The Department of Human Services is a national leader in reconciliation across the public service and last year reached an Indigenous workforce milestone of 5 per cent, above the Commonwealth public sector’s target of 3 per cent.
The department’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2015-2017 was granted ‘Elevate’ status by Reconciliation Australia, which is given to organisations that have a proven track record of embedding effective RAP initiatives.