Plantagenet community leaders unite to set jobs plan for town’s Aboriginal youth

Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
Jane Kelsbie MLA, Mt Barker Aboriginal Progress Association's Brad Yorkshire and Pardelup Prison Farm Supt Jodi Miller.
Camera IconJane Kelsbie MLA, Mt Barker Aboriginal Progress Association's Brad Yorkshire and Pardelup Prison Farm Supt Jodi Miller.

Connecting young Aboriginal people with mentors and building career pathways in Mt Barker was on the agenda when Plantagenet community leaders joined forces for NAIDOC Week earlier this month.

Mt Barker Aboriginal Progress Association and Pardelup Prison Farm co-hosted a panel discussion to celebrate Aboriginal culture and map a plan of action to boost opportunities in the region.

Panellists included Great Southern Noongar leaders, representatives of the Mt Barker APA, Mt Barker Community College, South Regional TAFE and the Department of Health.

Members of the crowd joined in the discussions at the Mt Barker Aboriginal Community Centre, including Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie, Great Southern Police Supt Kim Travers and Shire of Plantagenet executives.

Mt Barker APA vice-president Brad Yorkshire said the aim of the event was for leaders to listen to the issues so the community could move forward.

“The main thing we took out of it, I think, was helping the young people to transition out of school and into the workplace,” he said.

“There were a variety of subjects that were spoken of but that was the main one that got the most attention.

“In Mt Barker there seems to be a bit of a void, you don’t see too many of the local kids generally in employment in Mt Barker once they leave school.

“So we are looking at how we can close that void, what do we need to teach to give them that structure from school of getting out of bed and going to a job.”

After the meeting, a formal action plan was made to guide the priorities of the Mt Barker APA.

The plan included finding inspiring mentors for youth, building culture awareness in local workplaces, recruiting locally, retaining Aboriginal staff in trades and working with other agencies to increase school attendance. The group also plans to advocate for funding to upgrade the centre and buy a community bus to drive kids to school, transport residents to work and provide reliable transport for elders.

Pardelup Prison Farm Supt Jodi Miller said the panel agreed the centre was an important cultural hub for surrounding communities.

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