Call for equality for Aboriginal people in wake of budget cuts

Powerful speech: Father Chris Riley says  Australia has held Aboriginal people down too long, and that it was ‘‘time to lift them up’’.

Powerful speech: Father Chris Riley says Australia has held Aboriginal people down too long, and that it was ‘‘time to lift them up’’.

Founder at Youth Off The Streets, Father  Riley pledged to hire four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainee youth workers.

During a speech at the Koch Centre For Youth ahead of National Reconciliation Week (May 27 to June 3) Father Riley talked about the meaning behind this year’s theme Walk the Walk.

‘‘My pledge will be measured by this creed come next year,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s more important than ever that others in Australia make similar pledges after the government has cut $500 million from indigenous programs.

‘‘The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population still suffer from a lower life expectancy, lower rates of literacy and general health when compared to the non-indigenous population.’’

He said a recent report by the NSW Parliamentary Research Service found young people of this demographic  in NSW were three times more likely to be developmentally vulnerable when it came to language and cognitive skills.

‘‘We’re always working towards closing the education, health and life expectancy gap that still exists today for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,’’ Father Riley said.

‘‘My pledge will enhance this undertaking and more resources will be made available to help those in need.

‘‘It’s now up to everyone to come together and continue to work for equality.’’

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