Five years ago, things couldn’t get much worse for Wellington in central-west New South Wales, ABC News reports.
Nestled between two major urban centres, job opportunities were few and far between, and a drug epidemic had taken hold.
Nearing retirement, policeman Herb Smith saw unemployment as the main contributor to his hometown’s disadvantage, so he hatched a plan.
His new weapon? Cakes and slices. Thousands of them.
The Wiradjuri elder launched Dreamtime Tuka — an all-Indigenous food company specialising in snacks sprinkled with native Australian ingredients.
“I’m a very proud Wiradjuri man. I’m very proud of my heritage and culture,” Mr Smith said.
“We were raised to respect our culture and most importantly to be proud of it.”
His company now supports more than 10 young Indigenous people.
He also recently partnered with other businesses in Wellington to inspire them to hire more Indigenous people.
“I want to be part of breaking the cycle where children do see their parents, their brothers and sisters all getting up and going to work,” Mr Smith said.
The key to stemming Indigenous unemployment, he said, was to provide “real jobs”.
“Aboriginal people are some of the most over-trained people in Australia,” he said.
“They are encouraged to do courses, they go to TAFE and get certificates … but all those certificates end up in a drawer. You need to have a real job at the end of the chain.”
Like many of his peers, Jayden Moloney found it tough landing a job straight out of school.
Everything changed when he knocked on Uncle Herb’s door.
“The day I got this job I moved out with my aunty and it’s given me a sense of independence I haven’t felt before,” he said.
Jayden is now an apprentice at Dubbo’s Early Rise Bakery — where all Dreamtime Tuka’s products are made.