East Arnhem Shire Council launches Reconciliation Action Plan

East Arnhem Shire Council has become the first stand alone organisation in the Northern Territory to declare its commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Australians, by releasing the inaugural 2011 – 2012 East Arnhem Shire Council Reconciliation Action Plan.

Held at the Mirambeena Travelodge on Tuesday 11 October 2011, on the eve of East Arnhem Shire Council’s Annual Conference, the plan was jointly launched by Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) State Manager, Dave Chalmers, and East Arnhem Shire Council President, Banambi Wunungmurra.

The 2011 – 2012 East Arnhem Shire Council Reconciliation Action Plan was developed in collaboration with Community Advisory Boards, Shire employees and community representatives in each of the nine East Arnhem Shire Council communities.

The document focuses on developing strong multi-dimensional relationships with community members and Indigenous Australians; and in the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation the document will also allow for independent and public verification.

Community members will be enabled to make informed decisions; to move from social exclusion, to inclusion in the development of their communities and their future.

Highlights of the 2011-2012 East Arnhem Shire Council Reconciliation Action Plan include:

Community Identity: Development of an East Arnhem Shire Council Cultural Safety Policy
Leadership: Implementation of Shire Mentoring Program
Youth:  Establishment of Youth Advisory Councils

East Arnhem Shire Council President Banambi Wunungmurra said “The Shire will use this document as a key to open doors in true Reconciliation, to enable us as elected members for our region to lead our people in local governance and self-determination into the future.”

“Reconciliation Action Plan is the first step in a bigger picture, of a better future, based on mutual respect and opportunities on the foundation of strong relationships. It is not about closing the gap. It’s about opening the doors.”

“East Arnhem Shire Councils is dedicated to promoting the power of people, protection of community and respect for cultural diversity.”

“By launching this Reconciliation Action Plan, East Arnhem Shire Council is the only stand alone organisation in the Northern Territory paving the way towards reconciliation.”

A series of community based mini-launches have also been held throughout the nine communities of the East Arnhem Shire Council.

To view a full version of the 2011-2012 East Arnhem Shire Council Reconciliation Action Plan visit http://www.eastarnhem.net.au

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Media Contact – Aroha Jennings 0457 518 772

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Employer of the Year Finalists Announced

Arnhem Land will have a strong contingent at the 2011 NT Training Awards with announcement of Finalists this month.

East Arnhem Shire Council along with the Traditional Credit Union (TCU) and Department of Health (DoH) were announced as finalists for the 2011 NT Training Awards Employer of the Year.

The Employer of the Year award is presented to a business enterprise with more than 20 employees that has demonstrated outstanding commitment and achieved excellence in enabling the provision of nationally recognised training for employees.

East Arnhem Shire Councils application for the 2011 Award was based on the Council endorsed Indigenous Employment Strategy which provides framework for the delivery of improved employment outcomes for Indigenous people throughout the Shire.

The Indigenous Employment Strategy is a holistic approach to employing people and giving them the skill sets they need to be successful. The strategy recognises the need and value of the Indigenous employee’s perspective to the workplace. The Shire aims to increase the employment, retention and advancement of Indigenous employees across all levels of employment throughout the Shire.

A large part of the Indigenous Employment Strategy is the implementation of the Work Readiness for Indigenous People Program, commonly known as the WRIP Project. Outcomes of the WRIP Project will see the issuing of Community Identification Cards and development of Cultural Appropriate Pre-Employment Training.

The WRIP Project was developed in recognition of the barriers that often impede people from getting a job. In many cases, people do not have identification which stops them from gaining basic regulatory licenses such as applying for a Learners Permit for a Drivers License.

East Arnhem Shire Council Community Identification Cards will be acknowledged as a formal piece of identification by the Department of Justice and Motor Vehicle Registry Office. Furthermore, the Shire has developed culturally appropriate resources available to remote communities for Indigenous people with limited literacy and English skills.

East Arnhem Shire Council, Chief Executive Officer, Ian Bodill says in most cases English is the second or third language spoken in communities. By developing interactive ICT educational resources in Yolngu and Anindilyakan, we hope to increase the number of local indigenous people attaining vital qualifications and skills.

“Investing in staff through training is vital to the Shires’ success”.

“We are very proud that 66% of East Arnhem Shire Councils workforce is indigenous. One day we hope to be up there with the Tradition Credit Union, by having over 85% of our workforce filled by local Yolngu and Anindilyakan people” said Bodill.

East Arnhem Shire Council employs over 446 people working in a broad spectrum of services across 12 locations in the Top End. Currently, 104 indigenous employees are enrolled in accredited training through apprenticeships ranging from Cert II & III in Business through to Certificates in Civil Works.

The NT Training Awards are the Department of Education and Training’s (DET) annual premier event recognising training excellence and achievements by Territory businesses, training organisations, apprentices, trainees, trainers and students.

East Arnhem Shire Council, President Banambi Wunungmurra said “The awards are an official recognition of excellence and achievements in gaining the highest standards of knowledge and skills, and contributing to high standards of training and I am extremely proud that only after three years the Shire has gained this recognition from our peers”.

The winner will be announced on September 10 at the Darwin Convention Centre. The winner will travel to Brisbane to represent the Northern Territory at the Australian Training Awards in November.

Media Contact: Aroha Jennings 0457 518 772

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Next Stop, New York

Yirrkala residents Arian Pearson and Jamie Wunungmurra have advanced through to the next stages of the infamous Indigenous Marathon Project securing places in a twelve man training squad for the New York Marathon.

The Indigenous Marathon Project, an initiative of former world champion marathon runner Robert de Castella MBE, provides indigenous athletes with confidence and tools to become leaders within their communities and inspire others to lead a healthy and active life.

East Arnhem Shire Council have extended support to Pearson and Wunungmurra who will be vying to be among the final six runners to board the plane to New York later this year in November. The Shire funded Pearson, Wunungmurra and Boaz Wanambi who is also from Yirrkala to attend the selection stage in Cairns in April.

Shire President Banambi Wunungmurra has praised the young men and on behalf of the whole Council passes on his best wishes for them in travelling the long road ahead to New York.

“The Indigenous Marathon Project is a great initiative to inspire generations of Yolngu, these men will have opportunities to not only undertake a world class athlete training program, but also become role models and gain qualifications in community recreation”.

“The Shire will keep providing strong local support for Arian and Jamie through its Youth, Sport and Recreation staff and support of local community fundraising toward the trip ‘stateside’” President Wunungmurra said.

Pearson and Wunungmurra will now spend the six months to train the worlds most esteemed long distance marathon run the New York Marathon on 6th November. The men have a jam packed training calendar with race meets and intensive training camps throughout Australia.

Arian Pearson who was trained by Cathy Freeman at school, is humble in recognising the challenge ahead to qualify to be apart of the team to go to the Marathon. He also sees this as a great opportunity to show what young Yolngu people can do and says ‘Yaka Gora’, meaning don’t be shy, and believe that you can do anything.

The Indigenous Marathon Project has been in operation since April 2009 and aims to produce an indigenous distance champion who will compete in the 2016 Olympic Marathon team, whilst making running, walking and physical activity a natural and regular part of indigenous life.

Media Contact: Aroha Jennings 0457 518 772

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Flexible aged care, one step closer in Nhulunbuy

Residents of Gove Peninsula Region and beyond are one step closer to an integrated flexible aged care and disability service, with the completion of concept building designs for a Flexible Aged Care facility in Nhulunbuy.

East Arnhem Shire Council has supported the development of a flexible aged care facility in Nhulunbuy since the Shire’s inception, working closely with the Department of Health and Ageing to provide overall management for community consultations and designs for the facility.

“The completion of the community consultation and development of concept building designs is the first step to seeing Flexible Aged Care service to fruition”, East Arnhem Shire Council, Director of Community Services Mr Dale Keehne said.

“A Flexible Aged Care Service in Nhulunbuy will combine with the existing aged care services in communities to provide a holistic, regional approach to the care of some of the most vulnerable people in East Arnhem”.

“The Shire will continue to be an advocate for this service, and looks forward to working with the Australian Government to engage specialist aged care providers to take up the delivery of this important service”.

Key issues the Shire would like government to address are the provision of necessary housing for key managers of the facility and ongoing, adequate funding to operate the service.

In addition to the facility development in Nhulunbuy, East Arnhem Shire Council has secured $2.3M for the upgrade of aged care facilities at Milingimbi and Galiwin’ku and a further $280,000 for new aged care vehicles at Umbakumba, Milingimbi and Gapuwiyak.

East Arnhem Shire Council President Banambi Wunungmurra emphasised the Shire would continue to champion for the people of East Arnhem.

“The Shire will continue to push for the successful development; creation and ongoing operation of this greatly needed facility and services for frail aged and Indigenous people with a disability in the region.”

Media Contact: Aroha Jennings 0457 518 772

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