As Australia acknowledges the significant contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) peoples during NAIDOC Week celebrations, the PAYCE Foundation has reaffirmed its commitment to assist those struggling with daily life.
PAYCE Foundation Director Dominic Sullivan said ATSI peoples had achieved in many diverse areas, but there remained an over-representation facing social disadvantage, exclusion and homelessness.
“As we celebrate the history, culture and achievements of ATSI peoples, we recommit to assisting those most vulnerable who are facing the biggest challenges.” he said.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up a significant percentage of clients assisted through the following key PAYCE Foundation supported programs:
Adele House is a men’s residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre which is run by the Salvation Army. The PAYCE Foundation and NSW Government jointly funded and built the $10 million 40-bed centre which is regarded as one of the best in Australia. It has a high success rate in assisting clients beat their addiction and return to society. In the current intake, 32.2 per cent of clients identify as Aboriginal. Drug and alcohol addiction and high rates of incarceration are arguably the most significant issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Sydney Street Choir
The Payce Foundation has been a long-term supporter of the Sydney Street Choir which is celebrating its 20th year. The Sydney Street Choir is a supportive musical group that aims to inspire and empower those who have experienced homelessness or disadvantage in the community. Thanks to the Foundation’s support, the Sydney Street Choir has been able to employ a social worker to provide an extra layer of assistance. Social worker Leonie Oakes has provided more than 600 hours of social support to choir members. This has included help with housing, medical needs, counselling, legal issues and job seeking. Ten per cent of the Choir, which rehearses in Redfern, are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. In 2021, 75 per cent of choir members reported improved mental health.
Fifteen per cent of trainees at the PAYCE social enterprise Kick Start, identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. PAYCE established Kick Start in 2014 as part of a social housing renewal project undertaken in partnership with the New South Wales Government at Riverwood in Sydney’s south-west. The project started as a single worksite canteen aimed at addressing the very high rates of youth unemployment in the area. Since then, Kick Start has grown into a multifaceted social enterprise operating a fleet of mobile cafes, catering, and event services, providing training and employment opportunities for young people at risk. About 80 per cent of participants graduate with a TAFE Certificate III in Hospitality and nearly 100 per cent find a job or do further study.
End Street Sleeping Collaboration
The PAYCE Foundation was the founding philanthropic partner of the End Street Sleeping Collaboration which aims to halve rough sleeping in NSW by 2025. Twenty-nine per cent of rough sleepers are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. People sleeping on the streets die years before they should. They suffer illnesses that many in the wider community never experience. They are also among the most vulnerable people in our society and are more likely to experience violence and discrimination. Less than two years since its inception, the End Street Sleeping Collaboration is making notable inroads in reducing the number of people sleeping rough.