Closing the Gap: what it means to me

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Isaiah Dawe at the Closing the Gap roundtable
My name's Isaiah Dawe, I'm a Butchulla and Gawara man of Fraser Island, Hervey Bay Queensland and Gawara of the Northern Territory. And what I do with myself, I've just started up my own social enterprise, it's a mentoring program that's specifically targeting young Indigenous kids who are in the foster care system. And as we know, they're the most disadvantaged, vulnerable kids in Australia, and I'm trying to close the gap in my own community. So Closing the Gap, what it means to me and to my community, it's basically getting everyone on the same playing field and making sure that no one's left behind. Because we know from our past, Aboriginal people have been left behind. And there's so many gaps in so many different areas. One of those gaps to my community and to myself, is why I've started up this mentoring program. Currently there are a lot of young people ... as we're a young population, 30% of our young people are under the ages of 15 years old, compared to non-indigenous, it's 15%, under 15 years old. And if we relate it to the foster care system, a lot of our young people, they make up around half the majority of kids in out of home care. So that there, that's just showing that we're not on the same equal playing field. For example, in New South Wales from the state where I'm from, there is around two percent, we make up the Aboriginal population, yet 38% of that is Aboriginal kids. That's not just, that's not fair. And of those kids in care, it's more likely that they're going to end up in the criminal justice system, they're going to be taken from their culture and identity, they're taken from their extended families, they're not going to be employed, they're not going to finish year 12. They're going have more mental problems, they're going to be more vulnerable in society, and the list just goes on and on. And then their kids are going to go through it, the intergenerational trauma. So there's programs like mine, which are prevention and making sure that these young kids aren't going to be disadvantaged, they're not just going to survive the foster care system, but they're going to thrive throughout their futures.