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AUSTRALIA. Celebrities, politicians unite to end Indigenous inequality

Categories: Pobreza, Australia

NATIONAL, March 22, 2010: The handprints of Cate Blanchett, Ernie Dingo and Kevin Rudd have been plastered over the Sydney Opera House for a campaign to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians.

A cast of political and celebrity heavyweights, including Russell Crowe, turned out in Sydney on Friday to support GenerationOne, created to boost Aboriginal employment, literacy, and year 12 completion rates in Indigenous communities.

It also aims to help curb alcohol abuse and welfare dependency.

In an enthusiastic and animated speech, Mr Rudd told the 500-strong crowd it was time to move forward from reconciliation and into direct action.

"This is a night to reach across all divides for one purpose - to make a difference to our Indigenous brothers and sisters," he said.

"We began a couple of years ago by saying sorry - but ... saying sorry is not enough - it's what you then do in real life to make a difference.

"And what we are doing here ... is this simple difference, offering a young Indigenous person a job."

Mining magnate Andrew Forrest, James Packer, Kerry Stokes and Lindsay Fox are among a high-profile cohort financing the campaign.

Mr Forrest, the brains behind the Australian Employment Covenant, which has set out to secure 50,000 sustainable jobs for Indigenous Australians, says the solution is "utterly logical".

"Employment will do welfare out of a job," he said.

"Welfare is the disparity - we get people into employment, there's no more disparity."

Mr Forrest has been praised for his commitment to the initiative, which GenerationOne aims to build on.

Media personality Ernie Dingo believes it has come along just at the right time.

Dingo, who, alongside Blanchett stamped his handprint on a canvass which was projected onto the Opera House, said Australia was moving into a new era where racism was "a thing of the past".

"Everything is starting to fall into place," he said.

"Some people don't know how to work because of their situation, because of their lack of opportunities or the environment they live in.

"What do you do with people like that? You create things like this, where there is a job for them.

"It may be small, but it gives them feelings of knowing that they belong to the community."

Former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, Indigenous Affairs minister Jenny Macklin and NSW Premier Kristina Keneally also turned out to lend their support.

Mr Rudd said that disparity will only end when "each one of us makes a change".

Mr Turnbull echoed the Prime Minister.

"A lot of the welfare solutions have been counterproductive and we understand that," Mr Turnbull said.

"The whole community has go to be prepared to make an effort; you can't just continually say `the government's got to fix it'.

GenerationOne will have a national roadshow from March 23 to May 20 to encourage people to get involved. - AAP



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