Closing the gap of Indigenous employment one job at a time

Andrew Olsen, Indigenous Employment Consultant
Andrew Olsen, Indigenous Employment Consultant

My name is Andrew Olsen and I am a proud Dhughetti and Anaiwan man from the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales. Today I have been asked to write about ‘closing the gap’.

As an Aboriginal man I am often asked my opinion on a wide range of issues affecting Aboriginal people. I find this expectation a little unfair.

To look at me you would never guess that I am Aboriginal as I do not fit the stereotypical view often portrayed in main stream media. I was born in a major city, grew up regional city and attended my local university.

I was however raised by a single mother who had little education and was welfare dependant. Growing up I never thought my childhood was any different as I had every opportunity imaginable.

Today is Closing the Gap Day, a day all Australian’s are asked to come together and take meaningful action to improve health equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

The Closing the Gap Initiative is more than a 10 year plan, it’s about breaking an intergenerational cycle of disadvantage. When I was young I never knew how disadvantaged Aboriginal people were. All I knew was that too often we would travel to see sick relatives or attend funerals. For me, those trips were an opportunity to see my Aunties and Uncles or meet other extended family members.

Some of my favourite memories were listening to my Aunts and Uncles talk about the ‘good old times’. I never knew the hardship they went through just because they made it sound so fun.

I remember my mother telling me about how she didn’t gain a formal education and how she would have loved to have gone to university if this had been available to her. I didn’t understand that due to the government policies of the time my mother wasn’t allowed to go to school past second form. I couldn’t have imagined how big those issues would be in creating inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

I am reminded every day of the ‘gap’ as part of my role as KPMG’s Indigenous Employment Consultant. My job is to assist the firm with recruiting high calibre Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I see this as my small part in working towards equality as I am able to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through employment. It gives me the opportunity to change people’s lives one job at a time.

Today I encourage you to find out one fact about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Perhaps that random fact is about the average life expectancy* of Aboriginal people or perhaps you can find out more about how you can help.

Perhaps this small amount of information will lead you to a much bigger conversation that in time will lead to positive change.

*The average life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men is 69.1 years and for women it is 73.7 years, 10 years less than the average life expectancy of non-Indigenous Australians.

5 thoughts on “Closing the gap of Indigenous employment one job at a time

  1. You are a constant inspiration to us Andrew. And I entirely agree with your philosophy that while we want to make dramatic change overnight, sometimes smaller steps of progress are equally important to ensure momentum. You are making a difference every day and that is valued by so many people.

  2. Great article Andrew. I think education and employment are integral to helping close the gap for the next generation. You’re doing great work!

  3. I have shared this post with my friends and family. The post mentioned about indigenous people has difficult to involve with others in the same society. There are not too many approaches to change this unless everyone could open their arms to welcome them and make them feel they are not different. Recently, media has reported that a few of indigenous committed suicide that indicated even decades passed the society still did not make adequate effect to care about them. Hopefully, Closing the Gap Day can reminds more general public to notice that indigenous people are still part of our society.

    1. Thank you Frank YE for sharing this with your family and friends. I agree with your comment that as a nation we all have an important part to play. If we are going to “Close the Gap” we need to remove the label and stigmatism of this problem being just an Indigenous problem or a problem that the government should solve. As a nation we need to work together to find long term solutions.

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