Aboriginal people are the most uneducated, the most involved in crimes and the most unemployed in Dubbo, according to Robert Riley.
Mr Riley made the comments to the Dubbo Regional Council following Thursday evening’s mayoral ballot, calling for the new council to act to eliminate Indigenous disadvantage in the region.
It was an unusual opportunity on a night of firsts; members of the public are not usually given the floor, and the councillors’ undivided attention, after a council meeting has officially concluded.
Mr Riley used the chance to urge the council to bring together state and federal departments and not-for-profit service providers to try and improve outcomes for Indigenous people.
“We make up 15 per cent of the population here in Dubbo … but if we look at education, only roughly 34 per cent of Aboriginal people get an adequate education,” he said.
“Between 50 and 60 per cent of every single crime committed in this town is committed by an Aboriginal person … you look at the unemployment figures, Aboriginal unemployment under the age of 25 is over 30 per cent.
“We’re the fastest growing part of the community, we’re the most uneducated, we’re the most involved in crimes and we’re the most unemployed. It doesn’t mix well for a future of Dubbo.”
He said council was in a unique position to bring the key players out of their silos.
“I look at council as being the only place that is there for every single person in this town,” Mr Riley said.
“They should be the driver of a meeting with police, with FACS [Family and Community Services], with Aboriginal services, with education.”
He said reviews into Aboriginal disadvantage repeatedly found education was the key.
“Let’s get these kids while they’re young,” he said. “Because if you’ve got three kids and I say to you ‘two of them aren’t going to be educated and one them is going to be long-term unemployed’, you’d say ‘no way’. But that’s the stats that we’ve got in this town for Aboriginal people.”
Mr Riley also urged council to consider more partnerships with local Aboriginal service providers and businesses, including his own Growing Futures Nursery, that would be able to provide greater socio-economic benefits for Dubbo than out-of-town providers.
Dubbo Regional Council mayor Ben Shields said Mr Riley’s speech was “a sign of things to come” for a council that was hoping to be more inclusive.