Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New England's Aborigines - Moree Success Story

Photo: Message from Moree, ABC TV

Earlier this week ABC TV had an inspirational short piece on the work of Dick Estens. This followed an earlier ABC documentary, Message from Moree.

The western New England town of Moree is the centre of a rich agricultural district. At least 17 per cent of the population of Moree Plains Shire is Aborginal.

There have been strong past divides between Europeans and Aborigines in Moree, with high Aboriginal unemployment (up to 65 per cent) and limited opportunities creating a viscious cycle of social deprivation.

Dick Estens, a local cotton grower, believed that the only way to overcome racial divides and Aboriginal social deprivation was by finding Aboriginal people jobs. Seven years ago he launched Aboriginal Employment Services in the face of great scepticism from both sides of the racial divide. Both the documentary and the later follow up story trace the outstanding success of Esten's work.

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