Official launch of Dreamtime at the G
I'd like to begin by paying my respects to the traditional owners of this land, the Wurundjeri people.And I'd like to welcome the Indigenous players from the Essendon and Richmond Football Clubs, and all of the Corporate Sponsors and AFL representatives here with us today. The Australian Football League has long been a popular fixture in Indigenous communities. In the past 20 years 137 Indigenous players have made their debut in the AFL. Today, around 87 000 Indigenous people take part in Australian football programs. That is a staggering number, and a sign both of the game's reach across our country and of the commitment of the AFL.It is impossible to imagine Australian Rules Football without recognising the contribution of indigenous players and participants. And the leadership of players like Michael Long in confronting prejudice and creating new opportunities adds even more to that distinguished contribution.AFL has, and continues to, play a positive role in Indigenous communities. AFL has provided people with a focus, a want to achieve, a motivation to stay healthy. It has given Indigenous kids role models to look up to - many of whom are present with us today. The Australian Government is proud to work in partnership with the AFL to harness opportunities to improve employment and education outcomes for Indigenous people. For example, we are working with AFL SportsReady to provide training and employment support for 370 Indigenous trainees.
Partnerships like these play a key role in the Government's commitment to halving the gap in literacy, numeracy and employment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.The AFL is also heavily involved with the Government's Sporting Chance Program. Through this program, the Government provides funding to projects which use sport as a way to improve the educational outcomes of Indigenous students.Some 18 projects funded under the Sporting Chance program use AFL as one of several sports to engage students in their schooling to improve their chances of going on to further study, training and/or employment.The Eastern Kimberly Football academy is one such project catering for kids from the Kunundurra District High School. Here, students can attend courses based on Aussie Rules relating to healthy lifestyles, employment, life skills, leadership, and, of course, football skills.The Djarragun Sports Academy is another project helping kids from Cape York, Torres Strait, Gulf, Yarrabah and Cairns regions. This project offers students mentoring and gives them the opportunity to develop event management, communication, teamwork, planning and industry skills.Today I am proud to announce that another 11 of these Sporting Chance Projects will be commencing in 2008.We will also be stepping up our support for Indigenous employment and education outside the sporting arena. Last week we released a discussion paper and called for input from corporate leaders and the public about ways to improve Indigenous employment services. In addition, I am also pleased to announce today the creation of up to 300 additional apprenticeships and traineeships for Indigenous Australians across the country. This has been made possible through the Australian government's partnership with Group Training Australia.These apprenticeships will be in industries including construction, transport, clerical, administration and management. One hundred and eighty apprenticeships will be for Indigenous people in regional and remote areas.Group Training Australia apprenticeships will provide the Indigenous participants with the opportunity for a career in well-paid and sustainable employment often in a trade where there are severe skills shortages.And the project will greatly assist participants to complete their apprenticeship by providing mentoring and other assistance, which helps participants to remain in employment as well as motivated. Amongst the corporate sponsors here today, I know there are organisations who are actively working to improve employment and education outcomes for Indigenous Australians. I encourage other organisations from around Australia to follow their lead.When we come back for Dreamtime at the G next year, as well as anticipating a great game of football, we should be able to mark the measurable progress that we have all made in creating opportunities and improving outcomes for young indigenous people. That progress will be achieved through the further involvement and contribution of leading companies like those represented today. I thank you for your involvement and encourage you to partner with us as we develop this agenda.