Thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians without birth certificates will receive one for the first time with the help of Armidale-based not-for-profit, Pathfinders.
Pathfinders’ National Aboriginal Birth Certificate Program is being funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation to help provide this crucial documentation for better education, health and employment outcomes.
Thousands of Aboriginal Australians are estimated to be living without birth certificates, severely restricting their access to employment, early childhood education, financial and other services.
A person without proof of identity cannot apply for a bank account, driver’s licence or tax file number.
Pathfinders – a regional and rural organisation working with disadvantaged young people and families – has been awarded funding for up to three years by the Paul Ramsay Foundation to work with Aboriginal Australians and relevant authorities nationally to facilitate free birth certificates.
Foundation CEO, Professor Glyn Davis AC, said providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with formal identification was a relatively simple measure which could be life-changing, opening the door to schooling, housing and employment.
“Aboriginal birth registration rates are significantly lower than the rest of the population for reasons including the cost of registration, geographic isolation, poor literacy and the intergenerational fear of a child being removed from their family by government authorities,” he said.
“The Paul Ramsay Foundation is proud to support Pathfinders as part of our strategy to help break cycles of disadvantage in Australia.”
Pathfinders’ Senior Manager Aboriginal Culture and Connections Hilton Naden said the organisation frequently received calls for help from organisations such as schools, Legal Aid, community and health services, seeking assistance to access birth certificates.
“It’s more than providing people with a piece of paper,” Mr Naden said. “It’s about recognising identity.
“This is a remote, regional and urban problem – it’s right across the board.”
Paul Ramsay Foundation
We seek to identify and partner with individuals, communities and organisations working to create an Australia where people can overcome disadvantage and realise their potential.
The late Paul Ramsay AO established the Foundation in 2006 and, after his death in 2014, left the majority of his estate to continue his philanthropy for generations to come.
His commitment to good works has allowed us to support the for-purpose sector with grants of more than $350 million made since 2016 to more than 90 different partners, committed as we are to achieving lasting change.