Indigenous jobs focus

More employment opportunities are expected for Latrobe Valley's Aboriginal community with the launch of the Victorian Aboriginal Economic Strategy on Friday.

Latrobe City Council has been featured as a successful regional case study for the seven-year strategy, launched by State Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jeanette Powell at Latrobe City Council headquarters in Morwell, with Member for Morwell Russell Northe.

Ms Powell said the key outcomes of the strategy included young Aboriginal people successfully completing school, TAFE or university education with the confidence and the skills to move onto the workforce or whatever career path they wanted to build an economic future.

"We're hoping to generate more job opportunities with strong career pathways for Aboriginal Victorians across all key sectors of the economy and grow the number of Aboriginal businesses, enterprises and investments in Victoria," she said.

The minister recognised council's indigenous employment coordinator Joanne Brunt's work with GippsTAFE, major allied and private health providers within the 'Steps to the future Indigenous Employment Program'.

"People that they have employed are still employed," Ms Powell said.

"This was a success story, working with local government, one of the initiators if you like, and we thought this was the appropriate place to launch the economic strategy."

Latrobe City Council community development manager Steve Tong said the employment program began in 2001 and initially employed 11 trainees in the organisation.

Mr Tong said the program was so successful, it extended to service the wider Gippsland region.

"I'm proud of the fact that over 250 people have gained long-term sustainable employment through our program," he said.

Indigenous artist Ronald Edwards, Gunai Kurnai traditional custodian, and former employment program participant is now employed at the council and works part-time at Latrobe Community Health Service.

Mr Edwards, who studied art at Monash University Churchill, said the program gave him support and the skills to work in his community.

"The job I'm doing is giving me real employment skills and the confidence to be a role model in my community. This is very important to me," he said.

"I really hope that the Victorian Aboriginal Economic Strategy helps people from my community, get the same opportunities that I have."

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