Yarrabah mayor's vision for jobs
YARRABAH Mayor Errol Neal has a vision for his community that involves jobs, jobs and more jobs.With an unemployment rate of 85 per cent in Australia's largest indigenous community, he is open to ideas and yesterday travelled to Hope Vale to learn from its mayor, Greg McLean, who has significantly boosted local jobs through construction projects.
Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council is contracted to build public housing in the township and Cr Neal is keen to establish a similar program in Yarrabah to employ locals and inject life into the economy.
"We are going to look at their model and hopefully we can set up our own building company for the council for the people in our community, so jobs can stay in the community," he said.
"We have a pretty high unemployment rate of 85 per cent, and 65 per cent are (aged) between 16 and 25 so we have really got to try and look for any opportunity we can to try and create employment."
Cr McLean said about 70 per cent of the Hope Vale community was gainfully employed, many of those in theconstruction industry.
The council is currently building four houses for the Department of Housing, with another three to be built mid-year.
Cr McLean said 90 per cent of the building industry in the township was made up of locals working for the council or with contractors, who are also obliged to employ from the community.
"I don't get any complaints about employment here and they know that they have employment coming and as long as we have employment, our people are happy," he said.
Cr McLean said he believed it was the first time an indigenous mayor had travelled to another Aboriginal community to gain ideas, and he hoped there would be more of it in the future.
"We should be learning from other communities, finding out what works for them that isn't working for us," he said.
"I think this is the first of its kind that has happened and I have to commend Errol on this and hopefully all of us will take that lead."
The visit comes after the State Government last week passed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Holding Bill, which aims to address issues that have impeded the delivery of social housing, the transfer of land and home ownership in indigenous communities.
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