The stats on Aboriginal Australians can be a little numbing. Unemployment among Indigenous Australians is three times higher than for non-Indigenous. Twenty-nine percent of young Indigenous Australians aren’t working or going to school, compared to just 9 percent of non-Indigenous.
In some parts of Australia, up to 70 percent of school-age Indigenous children don’t regularly attend school.
It takes stories to understand what it means to grow up Indigenous.
Tania Major is the daughter of a Kokoberra mother and a white father. In her majority Aboriginal hometown, Kowanyama, alcohol abuse, violence, high unemployment and poor educational standards were the norm. Tania’s mother insisted she go to school, but she didn’t learn much. In 9 years of school, she can only recall one assignment. Still, she was at the top of her class, so she won a scholarship to attend a boarding school in Brisbane.
The opportunity was eye-opening. Tania’s new school was so much more demanding that her grades slipped from As to Cs and Ds. But she worked hard and went on to become the first person from her community to earn a college degree.
Getting out of Kowanyama gave Tania perspective on her hometown. The violence against women, neglect of children and a lack of opportunity stifle her community. Now, Tania is working with our friends at GenerationOne to change this reality and make life better for all Indigenous Australians.
It’s a big challenge, and it’s going to take an effort by all Australians. Indigenous children need mentors and help navigating the education and employment systems. Australian businesses need strategies to make sure Indigenous people get a fair opportunity to work. At the most basic level, Australia must ensure Indigenous children can get a good education that prepares them for life.
GenerationOne believes Australians can close the gap in this generation. You can join the fight to end Indigenous disparity.
Photo credit: GenerationONE