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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3567


Mr Price asked the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, in writing, on 3 February 2009:

(1)   In respect of the electoral division of Chifley in the lead up to the 2007 Federal Election: (a) did the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) undertake to reduce the number of Aboriginals who were not enrolled to vote; (b) what action was taken by the New South Wales administration of the AEC to enrol Aboriginals to vote; and (c) what was the most successful initiative and how many Aboriginals were enrolled to vote as a result.

(2)   In respect of the electoral division of Chifley: (a) is the AEC satisfied with the number of Aboriginals currently enrolled to vote; (b) what are the AEC estimates for the number or percentage of Aboriginals who are not enrolled to vote; (c) what lessons have been learnt from the 2007 Federal Election regarding attempts to increase the number of Aboriginals enrolled to vote; and (d) what plans exist to increase the number of Aboriginals enrolled to vote.


Mr Tanner (Minister for Finance and Deregulation) —The Special Minister of State has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

(1)  

(a)   Yes. Prior to the 2007 Federal Election, the AEC increased its focus on ensuring that as many eligible electors as possible were enrolled prior to the issue of the writs, including advice on the change to the close of rolls period. A national, targeted enrolment stimulation drive commenced in March 2007 with mail-outs, phone follow-up and door-knocking. For the 2007 election, the AEC’s communication strategy included targeted advertising, products and initiatives for special groups including youth, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians, Indigenous Australians, people experiencing homelessness, electors with disability, and overseas electors. Advertisements were placed on television and radio, in press, magazines, cinemas, outdoor billboards, and on the internet. In addition, as part of the national public awareness strategy for Indigenous electors, the following national activities were undertaken: - From April to August 2007, mainstream press and radio enrolment and election advertising was adapted (and translated into six languages for radio) for placement in Indigenous media and press. This included three enrolment editorials in the Koori Mail, a series of interviews and announcements on the National Indigenous Radio Service and a ‘last chance’ close of rolls media release; - A direct mail campaign including a ‘how to vote’ package was distributed to Indigenous community organisations, councils and media outlets; and - A section of the AEC website was developed for Indigenous electors with information on how to enrol and vote, including DVD segments, recorded radio interviews and other materials.

(b)   The AEC in NSW undertook a range of activities to enrol Indigenous Australians for the 2007 Federal Election. In late 2006, staff from the Division of Chifley conducted a community visit and enrolment drive at the Western Sydney Community Aboriginal Corporation at Minchinbury. The 2007 Community Electoral Information Officer (CEIO) program was delivered across NSW. CEIOs visited a number of communities (including in the Division of Chifley) in the lead up to the 2007 election. The CEIOs made contact with community councils, Indigenous organisations, schools, resource centres, Indigenous sporting and other organisations. They also provided targeted AEC publications and pamphlets, enrolment forms, and postal vote applications. The field visits raised awareness of the electoral process, generated and confirmed the enrolment status of Indigenous electors and encouraged greater participation in the 2007 election. A CEIO officer attended community meetings to promote enrolment and voting, including: - A meeting of the South Western Sydney Indigenous Network where a presentation was conducted and enrolment packs distributed; and - The Indigenous Employment Expo at the University of Western Sydney, Blacktown campus. Footage from this event was used on the segment recorded for Living Black on SBS television. Local Indigenous communities in Doonside, Hebersham, Dharruk and Tregear in the Division of Chifley were included in the targeted enrolment stimulation program prior to the 2007 election.

(c)   The electoral roll does not identify Aboriginality or any other ethnicity. From enrolment records the AEC cannot estimate the number of Indigenous people enrolled or not. The impact of enrolment initiatives targeted at Indigenous Australians cannot be measured in terms of enrolment numbers. At the close of rolls for the 2007 Federal Election, the Division of Chifley had 92,506 enrolled electors. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2006 Census (figures applied to the new Chifley divisional boundaries of 2007) estimate that approximately 2,500 Indigenous people of voting age reside in the Division of Chifley.

(2)  

(a)   Participation in the electoral process by Indigenous Australians is one of the AEC’s business priorities. The AEC is committed to further develop and implement strategies aimed at increasing the level of enrolment and participation for Indigenous Australians throughout Australia.

(b)   The AEC cannot estimate the number or percentage of Indigenous Australians not enrolled to vote in the Division of Chifley, for the reasons stated above.

(c)   To increase the number of Indigenous Australians enrolled, the AEC will continue to establish relationships with Indigenous organisations and maintain contact with these organisations between electoral events through visits and attendance at Indigenous events.

(d)   In the AEC’s 2008-2009 National Business Plan, Indigenous Australians are identified as a business priority. The NSW State Office 2008-2009 Business Plan includes the following activities: - Participation in National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week activities (to be held from 5 to 12 July 2009); and - Working with divisions to implement relevant local strategies for their communities. The 2008-2009 Business Plan for the Division of Chifley includes local public awareness strategies, aimed at Indigenous electors. As part of the plan contact has been established with Blacktown Aboriginal Corporation in Doonside, Butucarbin Aboriginal Corporation and Aboriginal Youth Services in Hebersham and Stepup Employment in Minchinbury. AEC staff in the Chifley divisional office will attend the Indigenous Jobs Market 2009. This event is an opportunity for the AEC to further expand networks into the local Indigenous community.