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AIM - ASU Indigenous Members

ASU Indigenous Members (AIM) share unique interests. There are many Indigenous members working in industries covered by the ASU around Australia.

The ASU is active on Indigenous issues within the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the various state and regional trades and labour councils. Read more about the ACTU's support for Indigenous workers.



FNWA is the First Nations Workers' Alliance. Australian unions including the ASU are part of the Alliance to fight for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers. CDP workers in particular are facing discriminatory treatment and exploitation.

As ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said at the 2017 Garma Festival: “People are working, some of them in jobs they were once paid award wages for and often for for-profit companies. The employers are getting CDP workers for free.”

More info: Remote work-for-the-dole scheme is racist, ACTU head Sally McManus says, by Helen Davidson, The Guardian, 6 August 2017

You can join FNWA here:
✅✅ CDP workers join for free, and other union members can also join to support their fellow workers.

At the FNWA website you will be able to link in with other members, get updates, post questions, participate in forums and keep up-to-date with any action being taken by the FNWA on your behalf. By sticking together, we can #ChangeTheRules that are currently causing so much hardship.

 171024 fnwa splash page

The Turnbull Federal Government's discriminatory Community Development Program (CDP) is a glorified work for the dole scheme that exploits Indigenous workers.

The ASU and our movement partners are pledged to fight CDP and have it replaced with a legitimate scheme for providing employment to Indigenous Australians, particularly those in remote locations.

Through our local government and community services coverage, the ASU has a significant membership in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia, and therefore we are well-placed to understand the work environment and possibilities in those locations.

Large numbers of ASU Indigenous members work in the social & community services sector, local government and Aboriginal Community Councils and Organisations. In these industries ASU general industry awards cover the conditions of Indigenous members in the same way they cover non-Indigenous members. Some general industry awards cover particular Indigenous issues such as cultural leave.

For more information about awards covering Indigenous workers, please contact your local ASU Branch.

As the ASU stated in our statement in support of the Australian Parliament's Apology of 13 February 2008 (see below), we believe the importance of the symbolic gesture needs to be followed up with concrete measures to ensure our Indigenous people are treated with justice. That's why we are supporting the "Close the Gap" campaign.

"Close the Gap" is supported by over many Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations, including the ASU. The campaign calls on federal, state and territory governments to commit to closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation.

Resources for the "Close the Gap" campaign

The pledge

The ASU has signed the pledge and encourages our supporters to do the same. You can sign the pledge here.

The pledge is as follows:

To achieve health equality for Indigenous Australians within 25 years I call on the Australian Government to:
  • Develop a comprehensive National Action Plan with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representative bodies
  • Increase Indigenous community participation and control in the delivery of health services
  • Address the critical social issues of housing, education and self-determination
Join us in demanding Indigenous health equality within a generation.

National Close the Gap Day 

We also encourage our supporters to participate in events around National Close the Gap Day each year. It is an important event to show governments that we have not forgotten and we don't expect them to forget their commitments either. The ASU marks this day each year.

To find out more about how you can be involved on Close the Gap Day, please visit the Oxfam Close the Gap website.

The ASU is involved in the "Stolen Wages" campaign. We have lobbied governments to return properly earned Indigenous wages they did not pass on during a period when those governments controlled the financial affairs of Indigenous people.

The ASU is a signatory to the 2005 "Joint Statement on Stolen Wages". Signatories to the statement call on all governments to act immediately to remedy this ongoing and gross abuse of human rights.

From the ACTU's "A Short History of Australian Unions"

1965 ACTU files claims to remove the discriminatory clauses in the Federal and State awards relating to the employment of Aborigines.

  • Pastoral Industry Award
  • Station Hands Award
  • Cattle Station Industry (NT) Award

1966 Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission hands down a decision to grant Aborigines on Northern Territory Cattle Stations equal pay with Europeans from 1st December 1968.

1967 A Federal referendum gives a massive "YES" vote for Aboriginal people to gain Australian citizenship and Federal control of Aboriginal affairs. Aborigines thereafter are to be included in the census.

Formal references: Cattle Station Industry (NT) Award (1966) CAR 651; Pastoral Industry Award (1967) 121 CAR 454, 457-458; Australian Workers' Union v Director, Department of Aboriginal and Islander Advancement 1979 AILR, paragraph 250.

The "Why our mob should vote" flyer was produced in preparation for the 2007 federal election to encourage voter registration of Indigenous Australians. The core issue it raises is still important - voting is an important way to ensure your views are taken seriously by governments.

You can also visit the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) website where all the relevant forms can be downloaded.

  • NAIDOC - celebrations are held around Australia in the first full week in July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Visit the website for ideas on how to celebrate, along with resources and other information.
  • Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Kit "Get the facts" addressing discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women
  • Face the Facts: some questions and answers about refugees, migrants and indigenous people - remains one of AHRC's most requested publication.
  • AHRC's list of social justice publications
  • Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) is the world's premier institution for information and research about the cultures and lifestyles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.