ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS REPORT 2013

Written on the 3 June 2014

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- I am pleased to rise to make a statement on the Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report 2013.

As my colleague Mrs Millar said, it is timely to speak on this report in this important week of national reconciliation. Looking through the report, it is clear that there have been many achievements over the past few years. I would like to acknowledge the work of the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Jeanette Powell, on the Victorian Aboriginal economic strategy, which she launched last December, and the work of the current Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Tim Bull, who is doing a very good job in following on from the good work that Mrs Powell did.

I note that the message from the minister talks about the 'well-developed and strong reform agenda for Aboriginal affairs'. Indeed, launching the Victorian Aboriginal economic strategy was a first for Victoria. That is a significant piece of work that has been undertaken by this government, and people across the community should be pleased with it.

As I said, the report outlines some great achievements, but there is still much to do. One of the areas which the report identifies as in need of improvement is the high smoking rates among Aboriginal Victorians. Central to this is the national commitment for Aboriginal people to enjoy the same health outcomes as all Australians. I think we would all agree with working towards that aim. The key achievements that are highlighted in the report involve issues of engagement, recognition and respect, importantly, strategic reform, and reports. I note that economic participation and development are central to the government's reform agenda for Aboriginal affairs and are important areas to focus on. The Victorian Aboriginal economic strategy will connect achievements in education and training to job opportunities with career pathways and Aboriginal business enterprise and investment.
One of the opposition members -- I think it was Ms Tierney -- was talking about participation by members of the Indigenous community in regional Victoria.

This report highlights just some of the achievements, especially in the education sector, where we are seeing some improvements.

However, I want to concentrate on a very good program in Mildura, which I encountered when I attended a number of art shows with my colleague Mr Crisp, the member for Mildura in the Assembly. I was lucky to visit Mallee District Aboriginal Services in Mildura and meet with chief executive officer Mr Rudy Kirby and manager Ms Annette Toohey, who gave up a great deal of time to highlight some of the key areas for me.

One of the initiatives they are undertaking - Bumps to Babes and Beyond - is having some success in achieving its aim to further improve maternity services in the district. The report says:


After operating for just over a year, the early results are very promising:

  • 60 per cent of women have had antenatal care and 30 per cent some care;
  • 80 per cent of women carried their babies to full term;
  • 80 per cent of women were breastfeeding upon discharge; 50 per cent after 6 months and 20 per cent over 12 months;
  • 100 per cent of women were up to date with the maternal and child health visits;
  • 100 per cent of babies are fully immunised according to the schedule.
  • There have been no child protection removals.

This program in itself is really significant in engaging with the community and making a significant impact on those important areas for maternal and child health care in the postnatal period, which is at times quite stressful, and also the antenatal period. The community should be commended for its engagement. I was encouraged by meeting with Mr Kirby and others, gaining a full understanding of the program and seeing how it is making a significant impact on mothers and babies in that Mildura district.

There are many other issues in this report that I would like to speak on, because it looks at the achievements and in particular the progress that has been made, but in conclusion, I commend the former minister, Mrs Powell, and the current minister, Mr Bull, on their great work along with the significant work of those involved in putting this report together.

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