News National Tennant Creek training program inspires PM
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Tennant Creek training program inspires PM

Out and about: Malcolm Turnbull chats to a dance troupe on his visit to Tennant Creek. Photo: AAP
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Bonita Thompson walks about six kilometres in the blistering Northern Territory heat to get to work.

The grandmother of nine, with a 10th grandchild on the way, met Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday, showing him where she works at the Future Stars indigenous employment program.

The Territory’s red dirt is the floor in the tin shed where she lives in Tennant Creek.

There’s no electricity or water.

“I’ve been working every day just to get food on the table for my family,” Ms Thompson told the PM.

Malcolm Turnbull speaks with Bonita Thompson about the Future Stars training program. Photo: AAP

Karen Sheldon is behind Future Stars, which works with highly disadvantaged indigenous job seekers to drive home the message that welfare is a safety net, not a way of life.

“They might have been so inured to generations of welfare that they might just think it’s impossible for them,” Ms Sheldon told AAP.

The program has secured another year of funding, starting Monday.

And Karen Sheldon Training is expanding, with an Airbnb 250 kilometres up the highway in tiny Elliott expected to be up and running in an old house early next year.

Ms Sheldon wants the prime minister to leave Tennant Creek believing nationally consistent employment programs don’t suit disadvantaged people in remote indigenous communities.

“I just want to make sure there’s a recognition that one size doesn’t fit all in Australia,” Ms Sheldon says.

Meanwhile, Ms Thompson is finished telling Mr Turnbull about her life.

“You’re an inspiration,” he says.

-AAP