The Pathfinders National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Birth Certificate Program continues on its mission to increase access to birth certificates for vulnerable and disadvantaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia.
While our initial focus at the start of the financial year was to work with Correctional Centres, Juvenile Detention and Rehabilitation Centres detainees needing birth certificates, COVID unfortunately restricted some of our access to jails.
Despite the challenges that COVID posed we were able to successfully pivot to providing the program to others, and where possible, hold sign-up days in a number of communities.
These sign-up days attracted people in their hundreds with multiple generations attending. In some instances, we were able to support a number of families who needed ten or more certificates. Highly successful sign-up days were held at Redfern, Kempsey, Coonamble, Campbelltown, Newcastle and Toronto, and the Koori grapevine means we are still receiving a high number of applications from these and other areas.
Overall, we conducted outreach and community sign-up days to 25 communities, six Correctional and Rehabilitation Centres in NSW, and have received more than 2400 applications – an impressive figure given the challenges we faced with COVID.
The feedback from applicants has been overwhelmingly positive. Obtaining a birth certificate has meant they can open a bank account, access community housing, apply for a driver’s licence, vote, enrol in sporting activities and apply for a tax file number for employment.
Our thanks must also go to The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, to the numerous Justices of the Peace who assisted in our sign-up days and to the volunteers who made sure the program ran smoothly.