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Time for a real revolution in Aboriginal education and employment: Greens

The Australian Greens today called for a renewed push in Aboriginal education and employment.

"We have a huge inequality in this country - one that we should be ashamed of. The gap in literacy and employment rates remain huge and opportunities taken for granted by most Australians are non-existent for Aboriginal Australians," said Australian Greens Aboriginal issues spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert.

The Greens expressed support for Professor Mick Dodson's strong statements on the state of Aboriginal education, at his National Press Club address yesterday.

"As Professor Dodson outlined, we need to see culturally relevant curriculum, better standards and more investment in classrooms before we will see any drastic movement on the statistics."

"At the same time as radical improvement is needed in schools, there also needs to be a change of focus in employment areas.

"There is growing concern about the ill-thought cancellation of the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) scheme as of 1 July which will see the transfer of workers from that scheme onto Newstart," said Senator Siewert.

"It makes no sense, at a time of rising unemployment, to be moving Aboriginal people out of CDEP jobs, where they are gainfully employed building infrastructure or delivering community services, and onto the dole queue."

The Rudd Government should be revamping CDEP and redirecting its workers into targeted employment schemes with jobs in place at the end - and making sure that all of the community services being delivered by CDEP schemes are converted into real jobs

"At the same time we are hearing that the wheels are falling off the Australian Employment Covenant - a plan backed by mining magnate "Twiggy" Forrest with the ambitious goal of creating 50,000 new Aboriginal jobs.

It seems that the bureaucracy within DEEWR wants to continue with the old 'one size fits all' approach to training that has failed in the past, rather than delivering personalised training to meet industries needs.

"We need a real 'Education Revolution' for Aboriginal job training - 'business as usual' and the same kind of thinking that has created this problem will not get us out of it.

"I urge the government to invest in the future of Aboriginal Australians who deserve better education and employment services and support during this growing financial crisis," concluded Senator Siewert.

For more information or media enquiries please call Tim Norton on 0418 401 180

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