A grassroots organisation is heading out on country in northern NSW this week to help First Nations people in registering and obtaining birth certificates.
It’s estimated one in five Indigenous people do not have a birth certificate.
Not having a birth certificate can make it difficult to fully participate in Australian life, and can cause problems when trying to obtain a driver’s licence, enrol in school, get a tax file number or open a bank account.
Will Winters is the National Coordinator of the Minimbah Project, which has helped more than 17,000 people apply for birth certificates since 2011.
The organisation has received $25,000 in support from UniSuper which will allow it to register more than 250 birth certificates.
Mr Winters says problems can stem from when a child’s birth isn’t registered.
“About a third of Indigenous bubs aren’t registered by the end of their first year of life. If they haven’t been, there’s a fair chance they’re going to struggle in that space.
We’ve often had three generations of mums – bubs, mums and grandmums – all sitting at the table at the same time applying for birth certificates but also saying their births were never registered.”
The Minimbah Project has helped out communities in Victoria, NSW and Queensland, but Mr Winters said there’s a huge demand for the service around the country.
“It’s actually a global issue too. There are 1.2 billion people in the world whose births aren’t registered. What we’re seeing in Australia is a microcosm of what’s happening in the world, and we’d like to fix this stuff that’s happening in our backyard as a first base.”
He said there needs to be a digitisation of the space to make it easier for people to have their births registered and to obtain birth certificates.