NAIDOC Week 2018 was themed Because of Her, We Can, a poignant moto for this time in history. We sat down with one of CPSU/CSA ATSI Group member and Aboriginal Programs Officer, Brooke O’Donnell.
WA has the highest incarceration rate of Aboriginal people in Australia, double that of Victoria or Queensland. But it’s Department of Justice workers like Brooke, who are striving to help her community and bring about great change.
Brooke was born in Perth, but her grandmother was from Palyku land, near Marble Bar in the Pilbara. After working for a not-for-profit with Aboriginal children in schools, Brooke joined the Department of Justice five years ago, working within jails and in the community.
“I want to make a difference to my community.
“60 per cent of those incarcerated in WA are Aboriginal. I wanted to get in at ground level, help solve the problem, teach about domestic violence, about addiction and help facilitate change.
“I believe to drive social justice and change, you need to be involved. I’m also a councillor for the City of Kalamunda. I can provide a greater perspective and I see the impact of one area of my work-life affecting the other.”
One of the concerns for Brooke is changes within the public sector.
“Aboriginal people need to be making change for Aboriginal people.
“Aboriginal culture is complex, there are reasons why people do, what they do. And we need awareness and respect of that.
“We never want to see less people receiving culturally appropriate help.”
View the full article on The Journal.


Ten years after implementation of the Closing the Gap strategy, only one target is on track to be achieved by 2030. The ambition was to collectively work together across governments to achieve equality in health and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

In WA, the target on track to be achieved is under renewed pressure as the McGowan Government makes significant cuts to aboriginal education.

In December 2017 the State Government announced that 38 Level 3, 5 and 7 Aboriginal education leader roles were to be abolished by the end of 2018. The roles are critical in the delivery of the Department of Education’s Aboriginal Education Operational Plan and the Aboriginal Education Plan for WA Public Schools 2012 -2014.

One Aboriginal public servant and member of the CSPU/CSA told the Union the following:

“I used to work as a Coordinator. The Aboriginal Education Branch has been slowly dismantled over the recent years by successive governments. 

They have cut and removed 50D senior positions across the education department the state and the regions.

For example, the Midwest Murchison Gascoyne region has lost Level 7 manager and two level 5 coordinators.

This leaves AIEO (Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer Positions) level 2 and 3, without a voice, representation and strategic direction within the department.

They have abolished the Aboriginal Education Advisory Councils across the regions. They’ve disappeared. 

Aboriginal education units have disappeared.

Given the appalling statistics why are these positions being targeted when we need more of these positions, more culturally appropriate education services for our kids not less."

If all this goes ahead who will now represent Aboriginal people in the education department?

We need to ensure culturally appropriate services ensuring a decent education for some of the most disadvantaged kids. Who will now advise the department of literacy and numeracy and two way learning processes of our Aboriginal kids?”

In response to criticism about the roles cuts, the WA Labor Government said it had not cut Aboriginal Education as they were on track to employ 50 new Aboriginal Education Assistants. However, these roles are not leadership roles (level 3) and the majority of their work takes place in the classroom and in the family home. They do not have the responsibility for changing the Education Department to deliver better, more culturally aware education from the top.

"The CPSU/CSA, in recent years, has called upon State Governments to provide a well-funded and well-resourced public sector to provide high quality, effective services to the people of Western Australia.

Under the former Liberal-National Government, and now the current Labor Government, the public sector has been attacked through ongoing cutbacks in funding and staffing levels, which is having detrimental effects in the community, as demonstrated by the Closing the Gap findings. It is therefore not surprising that only one target is on track to be met by 2030."

— CPSU/CSA Vice President and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Group Convenor, Matthew Abrahamson.

More information on Closing The Gap.


The CPSU/CSA is looking to provide a positive Union experience for its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public servants are employed in a wide and diverse range of occupational groups right across Western Australia. Your opinions are valuable in the way the CPSU/CSA delivers services and supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and their families.

The CPSU/CSA would like to form a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members to provide advice and guidance to the Union across a number of areas. The CPSU/CSA is looking to better engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members in the following ways:

  • Learning & Development opportunities that use Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content – for example, the Wave Hill Walk Off is a prime example of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people embarking on a campaign to secure better working conditions.
  • Commemorating key dates – for example, how the CPSU/CSA can become more actively involved in NAIDOC Week events and other key historical events, such as the Wave Hill Walk Off (2016 marks the 50th anniversary of this significant event).
  • Providing an environment that embraces and welcomes all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and their families – for example, events hosted by the CPSU/CSA around topics of interest.
  • Encouraging more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become members of the CPSU/CSA.
  • Developing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members to become workplace delegates and provide an important role in supporters Union members in the workplace.
  • Encouraging active Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and delegates to pursue roles on the Council of the CPSU/CSA and other representative groups, such as the State Public Service Federation (SPSF) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander group and the ACTU Indigenous Group.
  • Ensuring that General Agreement negotiations respond to the changing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and their families, specifically through working conditions that form part of Agreements.

If you would like more information on these initiatives, or would like to become involved, please fill out the short form below or contact CPSU/CSA Councillor, Matt Abrahamson



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