Aborigines get campus equality

November 19, 1999

MELBOURNE

Australian universities will be required to establish special employment strategies for Aboriginal academics and general staff under a claim to be served on institutions by the National Tertiary Education Union.

The union says universities should also create a pro vice-

chancellor post with responsibility for indigenous issues to

provide advice on all aspects of indigenous higher education, actively promote participation by Aborigines, develop and implement an indigenous employment strategy and introduce "cross-

cultural training" for managers and senior staff.

Special units or centres that

help Aboriginal students to adapt touniversity life will also have

to be "indigenised", under the claim.

Non-Aboriginal staff would be appointed only on a temporary basis until an indigenous candidate is available.

An estimated 700 Aboriginal Australians work in universities.The union's plan is to bring

the proportion up to the level

of their representation in the regional communities around each institution.

NTEU general secretary

Grahame McCulloch said the indigenous employment strategy was important to the process of reconciliation, particularly since the federal government had scrapped public-sector employment initiatives for indigenous Australians.

"The federal budget contains some initiatives but these relate only to private-sector employment, where ten or more indigenous Australians are employed," Mr McCulloch said. "This is

a complete abrogation of the

government's responsibility to implement recommendations of the Royal Commission into

Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, so the NTEU does not intend to let universities off the hook."

Once negotiated with each

institution, the employment strategy will be legally enforceable, Mr McCulloch said.

Mr McCulloch added that this wouldenablethemtoachieve their aim of all staff working

in the special centres being indigenous as well as increasing

the number employed in other areas.

John Muk Muk Burke, a

member of the union's indigenous policy committee who lectures

at the Northern Territory University, said the strategy was

only one social justice measure aimed at redressing years of socialandeconomic disadvantage suffered by Aboriginal

Australians.

"In 1996, a fifth of all indigenous employment was in work

for the dole and the overall average income for indigenous workers was Aus$14,200 (Pounds 5,660)," Mr Burke said. "It is estimated

that indigenous incomes would have to increase by Aus$1.6 billion to achieve income equality,

and this is reflected in statistics relating to health, housing

and mortality - especially in

custody."

Mr Burke said the call for

the appointment of a pro

vice-chancellor for indigenous affairs would be a requirement of all universities "in an ideal world" as every state and territory had Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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