Home' Charter : 1111 Charter Contents November 2011 I Charter 31
accommodate Indigenous employees in its workforce.”
Secondly, he says businesses need to consider Indigenous
people’s strong ties to the land, and how that affects the work
that might best suit them – particularly in remote traditional
communities such as the Kimberley and Arnhem Land.
“They are about looking after the country so they can hand it
on to their successors in the same way it was handed to them
by their ancestors,” says Summers. As an example of that bond,
Summers recalls the response of a traditional landowner who was
asked by a reporter why he opposed a proposed mine.
“The interviewer asked: ‘Why are you objecting to this? If
you divert the river to create the mine, it will give you lots of
employment opportunities’, “ says
Summers. “The traditional owner replied:
‘I’ve already got a job – my job is to look
after the country and make sure everything
stays exactly as it is’.”
Summers has lived in Darwin since
1980 and is the former auditor-general for
the Northern Territory. He has extensive
experience with Indigenous communities
and is a director of the Traditional Credit Union, which provides
fnancial services to Arnhem Land communities. He says
some Indigenous people often do not have a history of regular
employment and building wealth is not a priority compared to their
standing in the clan or community. A regime of clocking on, driving
a grader, taking a smoko, then lunch and knocking off at 4.30pm
can be an unsettling experience.
“They’re not used to this sort of world, ” he says. “There needs
to be a training or readiness process that matures people or
disciplines people into being able to cope with that and gives
them a reason why doing all that and having money in their back
pocket is of any consequence.”
At the other end of the country, in Victoria, Ernest Stabek FCA is
working with a group of people to help close the gap in another
way – before they even get a job. He’s been involved in the My
Moola program, a 10-week fnancial literacy program designed
to help Indigenous Australians learn how to better handle their
fnances and engage with fnancial institutions.
The scheme is run by the First Nations Foundation, which
has the vision: ‘To enable Indigenous Australians to confdently
make informed decisions about their fnancial well being, thereby
securing a strong economic future.’
The Foundation developed the My Moola program in partnership
with the ANZ Bank, with Stabek recently serving as its interim CEO.
It covers such areas as fnancial goal setting, making money stretch
past payday; saving for the future; internet and phone banking; and
loans and credit traps. In practice, it can help with topics such as how
to deal with a bailiff, how to take out a car loan or knowing the traps
involved in dealing with payday lenders.
Stabek says there can be many barriers preventing Indigenous
people being fnancially savvy, including the fear of rejection, low
confdence, real or perceived racism, low income levels and poor job
security. Since 2007, some 300 people a year have been taking part in
My Moola workshops or related activities in the Shepparton area of the
Goulburn Valley. The program has already proved to be life changing
“One case I recall is that the program empowered a woman
to walk away from a relationship because that was the issue
stopping her from being able to save, get a job and engage with
mainstream Australia, ” Stabek says. “So she’s managed to get a
job, and a car, save and is aspiring to the next level.”
The program is being extended to Melbourne, and the Pilbara
town of Roebourne in Western Australia, which is experiencing boom
times thanks to the mining sector. Stabek says the goal is to extend
the My Moola program to Indigenous communities in other parts of
Australia. Rio Tinto and the federal government have come on board
as partners, and the program has secured funding for three years.
Over in the Adelaide CBD, Mark Jones is working with members
of other professions to help create jobs for Indigenous people. Jones
is the SA and NT general manager of the Institute of Chartered
Accountants. He’s part of a new SA and federal government initiative
to increase Aboriginal employment and training in South Australia.
The aim is to create job opportunities for Indigenous people in
the professional services sector. But the program isn’t just aimed at
professionals, it’s about employing Indigenous staff across all levels
of an organisation, including admin, HR, clerical, and support staff.
“The aim is to make sure that Aboriginals have a pathway
to employment in professional services frms, whether it be
accounting frms, legal frms, HR frms, engineering frms,
or whatever,” Jones says. “We are concentrating initially on
accounting frms because they’re large employers and they
already have quite sophisticated HR and employment strategies
in place, so they’re very well geared for it, probably better than
engineering frms and legal frms.”
The initiative has only been going for a few months, and the
Professional Services Industry Cluster, as it’s known, is chaired by
the managing partner of Ernst & Young in Adelaide, Mark Butcher.
It’s early days but the response so far has been encouraging.
“All the Big 4 frms are on board and have one, if not two,
representatives on the steering committee,” Jones says. “We’ve only just
started approaching the mid-tier frms, plus all three major universities
are represented, as well as the Department of Further Education,
Employment, Science and Technology in SA and the federal government’s
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.”
So how many Indigenous jobs might be created? “We’re still
trying to fnalise a number but we’re looking to try to get about
10-20 people qualifed within the next fve to seven years, and
probably about 20-30 in the non-qualifed areas,” Jones says.
He admits that it’s a relatively ambitious goal. A program that
may offer more immediate results is the scholarship scheme that
is currently being bedded down.
“We’ve identifed a Year 12 student already who looks like he
might take on an Indigenous scholarship to be sponsored through
university, but we’re just putting the fnal touches to that program
at the moment,” Jones says.
We are concentrating initially on accounting
firms because they're large employers and
they already have quite sophisticated HR
and employment strategies in place
CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP PROGRAM
Rachel George and Emma Cavaggion left their Adelaide offce for
Cape York, where they performed business advisory services for
Indigenous small business ventures as part of KPMG’s Corporate
Citizenship program. The initiative offers employees the chance to
spend fve weeks in remote Australia to assist communities and
deliver long-lasting outcomes. Read their story on page 42.
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