Pathfinders conclude free Aboriginal birth certificate program

NABC co-ordinator Hilton Naden, MP Linda Burney, Aboriginal strategy and engagement managerJoe Craigie and Pathfinders CEO Alan Brennan.
NABC co-ordinator Hilton Naden, MP Linda Burney, Aboriginal strategy and engagement managerJoe Craigie and Pathfinders CEO Alan Brennan.

After helping more than 8,300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people obtain a free birth certificate, Pathfinders’ National Aboriginal Birth Certificate Program (NABC) is wrapping up its services.

October marked the end of the project, which has reached its targets and funding has concluded.

NABC Coordinator, Hilton Naden, said it had been an invaluable service for thousands of Aboriginal children and families.

“More than 3,000 people applied for their birth certificates to access education, whether that’s early childhood education, primary, secondary or tertiary education,” he said.

“About 4,000 people applied for employment reasons, and we’ve had countless people tell us how grateful they are that they can now get a job, open a bank account, apply for housing and get a vehicle licence.

Non-profit and community services provider Pathfinders Ltd, ran the NABC program; funded by the Prime Minister and Cabinet since June 2015 across New South Wales and Queensland.

Pathfinders helped Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 21 years and younger obtain a free birth certificate to gain access to schooling, further education and transition into the workforce.

In many cases, the birth of these young people had not been registered with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

“The true value of a birth certificate is often under-estimated and the barriers that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face trying to get one are often overlooked,” Mr Naden said.

“The NABC program helped break those barriers to close the gap well beyond the birth certificate and registration facts and figures.”

Pathfinders Ltd, in partnership with New South Wales Registry of Birth, Deaths and Marriages and the Queensland Government, surpassed the target of 7,500 total applications within 117 weeks of the 134-week delivery period.

Program staff, partners and volunteers helped conduct outreach sign-up days in more than 30 regions to directly assist applicants in need.

The NABC program also assisted with hundreds of birth registrations within the two and a half year funding cycle. 

Despite the culmination of the NABC program, Pathfinders’ CEO, Alan Brennan, said Pathfinders Ltd is committed to continue support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, such as the current Links to Learning program and Aboriginal Transition to School program.

“The NABC program was an overwhelming success, and Pathfinders will continue to offer new programs and paths of support to the children, youth and families in our communities,” he said.

Hilton Naden will continue to field enquiries on the administration of the program.

Pathfinders NABC staff thanked partners, organisations, individuals and Aboriginal communities throughout NSW, the ACT and Queensland for their continued support and friendship.