NSW agencies launch plan to deliver better services in partnership with Aboriginal communities

By Shannon Jenkins

December 4, 2020

Chris Carr said Jenny West’s status in her job application was ‘well-advanced but not at the end of it’.  (Image: Adobe/ Keitma)

Two New South Wales government agencies have developed a three-year strategy to embed Aboriginal cultural knowledge within the departments, improve services, and guide the public service towards becoming an employer of choice for Aboriginal people.

The strategy was launched by Department of Planning, Industry and Environment secretary Jim Betts and Department of Regional NSW secretary Gary Barnes on Thursday.

Betts said the plan would help the agencies lead the way in achieving the state government’s goal of supporting Aboriginal organisations, businesses and communities to create better outcomes for Aboriginal people.

“This strategy will help staff grow their cultural understanding and the departments deliver better services in partnership with Aboriginal communities, while ensuring we are employers of choice for more Aboriginal people,” he said.

“As we become more capable, we will help strengthen Aboriginal communities which will support healing for both Aboriginal communities and non-Aboriginal people too.”

The strategy covers the scope of the departments’ work on Country — from environment and heritage protection to planning for communities — and focuses on delivering improved Aboriginal outcomes.

There are 18 priority actions under the plan, including: delivering 120 social and affordable houses for Aboriginal families across NSW by 2022; transferring claimable Crown Land to Local Aboriginal Land Councils; increasing Aboriginal people’s skills and economic participation through government contracts; and increasing Aboriginal employment in the departments to a minimum of 3% across all grade levels by 2025.

Read more: Shared decision-making crucial to improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Productivity Commission finds

Betts said the strategy would play a key role in guiding the agencies’ work in many regional communities.

“All our dealings with Aboriginal people and communities will be driven by underlying principles of self-determination and co-design to ensure they have greater choice, access and control in the various areas the departments operate, such as land, water, housing and regional economic development,” he said.

“Our efforts will be supported by cultural training to embed Aboriginal cultural knowledge. We will strengthen relationships with Aboriginal groups and communities and respect Aboriginal roles as Traditional Custodians of land and waterways.”

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