The anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is recognised on 13 September. The Declaration is the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of indigenous peoples.
As the national peak body for volunteering, it is our ambition for volunteering to be inclusive of all members of the Australian community. Being First Nations people, Indigenous Australians are at the very heart of our society.
In recognising the significance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, today we highlight our submission to the Indigenous Skills and Employment Program.
Volunteering Australia provided a submission to the consultation on the design of the Indigenous Skills and Employment Program (ISEP). Volunteering – when understood as including cultural obligation and reciprocity – is embedded in the everyday cultural life of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The submission emphasises the need to recognise the social and economic value of indigenous forms of volunteering to the Australian economy, alongside efforts to inclusively integrate indigenous ‘volunteers’ within mainstream organisations.
In the development of the new Indigenous Skills and Employment Program (ISEP), Volunteering Australia makes the following recommendations to the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA):
- The ISEP should explicitly articulate the importance of volunteering (in general) and Indigenous volunteering (in particular) as a pathway to employment and stronger economic participation of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities.
- The NIAA should incorporate consideration of, and investment in strengthening the Indigenous volunteer ecosystem of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- The NIAA should enhance Indigenous access to formal volunteering opportunities.
In communication with Indigenous members of the community, we propose a co-design process that is locally embedded and aligned with the principles of self-determination of the First Nations People. A two-way traffic that 1) promotes the value of the Indigenous volunteering ecosystem to mainstream employers, and 2) provides Indigenous communities with access to formal volunteering within mainstream organisations, would be well suited to meet the objectives of ISEP in closing the gap in employment and catering to the distinct needs of the First Nations People.