Moree Aboriginal Employment Strategy

Category: Policy/Strategy
Date: 1 February 1997
Sub Category:Policy/Strategy
State/Country:New South Wales, Australia
Summary Information:
The Moree Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES) officially started in February 1997, as a partnership between the Gwydir Valley Cotton Growers’ Association and Aboriginal people of Moree. In 1996 the Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DEETYA) and the cotton industry banded together to fund the project. The AES commenced operations with two people, one of whom was the Coordinator.
Detailed Information:
The AES grew out of one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in the late 1980s. A number of employment promotion committees were set up in NSW along with one in Moree. These unfortunately folded a few years later. It was not until 1996 that funding became available for the AES, with the Department of Education Employment Training and Youth Affairs (DEETYA) giving $112,000 and the cotton industry contributing $10,000, plus set up costs and management. This was later increased to $200,000 and $30,000 respectively. The AES was officially launched in May 1998. Moree has a history of racial tension and although in the mid 1960s one of the wealthiest towns in the north west of NSW, by the mid 1990s there was little growth, the town had a high incidence of crime and a negative image throughout the rest of Australia. The idea behind the AES was to try to sort out the problems that Moree was experiencing by finding jobs for Aboriginal people and to bring the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities closer together and to foster respect for each other. By the beginning of 1999 the AES had found jobs for 44 Aboriginal people in full-time employment. By June 1999, the AES which had from the start been staffed and operated by Aboriginal people, had four employees. Initially the contract with DEETYA required jobs to be found only in the cotton industry, but this was quickly changed to a policy of finding jobs in all areas of work. The AES has successfully worked closely with all forms of media, with the Moree Plains Shire Council and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Regional Council to gain support for their project. The success of AES has very much been due to the use of well trained Aboriginal employment mentors, which are now being trialled elsewhere. Of equal importance has been the forming of partnerships, not only with the Cotton Industry but with other industries and businesses and by co-partnering events such as the Croc Festival. Three Croc Festivals have now been held in Moree since 1999. The partnerships have brought the communities in Moree together, have built support for the AES and have gone a long way to assist the process of reconciliation in Moree. In the first three years and by June 2000 the project had placed Aboriginal people in over 320 jobs with 100 people still in employment. In June 2000 the Federal Government was reluctant to re-fund the AES but eventually did so. The cotton industry has now handed control of the AES to an Aboriginal interagency, which has a board of 11 members. A minimum of 6 board members must be Aboriginal. Not only has the AES been successful in placing Aboriginal people in jobs, it has been instrumental in building good, solid and sustainable leadership in the Aboriginal community by Aboriginal people successfully managing programs.

Related Entries

  • Moree Plains Shire Council
  • Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (Cth)
  • Event
  • Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
  • Croc Festival

  • Glossary