Forum Calls for Indigenous Employment Funding
30 July 2010 at 11:57 am
Mining magnate and philanthropist Andrew Forrest says Australians must demand that governments provide funding to allow business to create sustainable employment for indigenous people.
Forrest, who founded the indigenous employment organisation, GenerationOne, made the call during an Ideas Forum on Indigenous Employment That Lasts in Sydney.
Forest joined a panel of experts including Danny Lester, CEO of the Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES), Melinda Cilento, Deputy CEO of the Business Council of Australia and Bruce McQualter, Senior Manager Indigenous Employment and Training for ANZ.
The discussion focused on issues surrounding Indigenous employment, to assess what programs are working and how Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians can work together to create more sustainable employment.
Forrest says government must tell indigenous Australia that there is opportunity waiting for them.
He says industry can collectively come together to help get employment entry skills up and demand that government provide the funding so that they can provide the jobs.
He says unfortunately there is a culture of welfare that must be broken down where non-indigenous people put themselves out there to break down the cycle of welfare handouts and let indigenous people know they matter. As well he says the thinking around employment should move from finding a job to finding a career.
Forrest told the panel that bringing indigenous people into the employment stream is great for business and if the government provides the resources then that business can grow.
The Forum heard that unemployment for indigenous Australians is four times higher than the rest of the population.
GenerationOne is financially supported by a number of Australian business leaders such as Andrew and Nicola Forrest, James Packer, Kerry Stokes and Lindsay Fox.
The organisation started with Forrest's plan to end indigenous disadvantage and to get 50,000 jobs for Indigenous Australians – with the help of many employers who have agreed to provide 17,000 vacancies for Indigenous people over time.
GenerationOne has just released its theme song, “Hands Across Australia,” in an effort to raise awareness about indigenous disadvantage.