IT’S a piece of paper most of us take for granted but without one something as simple as opening a bank account is almost impossible.
In the north of the region last week almost 300 adults and children applied for birth certificates during registration days at Armidale, Ashford and Tingha, and enquiries have kept coming ever since.
The issue was highlighted last year when New England Mutual (NEM) staff and members of the University of New England’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) held financial literacy sessions at Minimbah Primary School in Armidale and discovered many of the
students could not open bank accounts because of the absence of a birth certificate.
They contacted the member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay’s office to arrange for staff from the department of Births, Deaths and Marriages to come to Armidale and organise certificates, with almost 100 children registering on that occasion.
A fundraising effort by NEM and SIFE subsequently raised $20,000 and allowed for the registration days held last week.
Seventy-nine people registered in Tingha and another 51 at Ashford.
Mr Torbay said the response from the local Aboriginal community, in particular, had been very positive and enthusiastic and he urged communities around the country to consider holding similar events.
“It has been a hidden problem but many people have been unable to apply for a driver’s licence or passport or even open bank accounts because they did not have a birth certificate,” Mr Torbay said.