Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans

The ACT Government is continuing to progress equitable outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans with nation-leading approaches and genuine community partnerships.

The ACT Government signed the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement 2019–2028 on 26 February 2019. The Agreement demonstrates the shared commitment of the ACT Government and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body to deliver real outcomes that improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Canberra.

We then became the first jurisdiction to sign up to the National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap on 22 March 2019. This agreement between the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, the states and territories and the Commonwealth Government enables self-determination to define a national way forward to achieve equality for First Australians.

Working together for reconciliation

The 2019 Reconciliation Day event on Monday, 27 May 2019 provided a space for all Canberrans to continue our community conversation about the true history of our city, region and nation and our ongoing journey towards reconciliation. The ACT Government is delivering this annual event, along with a Reconciliation Day Grants Program, with a total of $200,000 a year.

Health and wellbeing

We provide $3.7 million to non-government organisations each year, for a range of specialised and culturally appropriate health and wellbeing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We are investing $300,000 to start planning a culturally appropriate residential alcohol and other drug rehabilitation service for the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Yarrabi Bamirr

The ACT Government will continue to partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community provider Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services to extend Yarrabi Bamirr, an intensive family-centric support program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to prevent or delay contact with the justice system.

Other initiatives with ongoing support include:

Connecting families to culture and community, supporting health and learning

Three-year-old Jarrah* was clingy, with separation anxiety and did not like new places, crowds or unfamiliar people. He would scream and cry if he didn’t want to do something and would take a long time to calm down.

Jarrah’s dad, an Aboriginal man, was exhausted. With his wife at work, he had been caring for Jarrah full-time since he was born.

After a routine health check, the family was referred to the ACT Government’s Child and Family Centre in West Belconnen, where they took part in the Children’s Behaviour and Emotional Wellbeing Clinic and the Centre’s Koori Playgroup.

The playgroup was a relief and respite for Jarrah’s dad, where both father and son could build new friendships, strengthening community and cultural connections, while meeting Jarrah’s care and learning needs.

The playgroup put the family in touch with the ACT Government’s Child Development Service, which arranged a speech and autism assessment. Jarrah has now been provided with support through the NDIS and a place in the Education Directorate’s Koori Preschool Program, where he’s progressing well, improving outcomes for the entire family.

*Not his real name.