Forrest Indigenous Jobs Review Released
1 August 2014 at 12:02 pm
Philanthropist and businessman Andrew Forrest’s Review of Indigenous Training and Employment Programmes has been released, making 27 “ambitious” recommendations to improve indigenous employment outcomes across the country.
Among the 27 recommendations is the implementation of a Healthy Welfare Card scheme in conjunction with major financial institutions and retailers to support welfare recipients manage their income and expenses.
Others include: young people below 19 years of age must be working or in school or other educational institutions, training for a guaranteed job and the welfare system be simplified by reducing the number of different working age payments available to a single unemployment benefit (with only a very limited number of supplements available).
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the report set ambitious objectives to improve indigenous employment outcomes.
"A six-week consultation period will allow the community and interested stakeholders to provide feedback on the broad direction of the report,” Abbott said.
“Getting more people into work is one of the Government’s highest priorities in Indigenous Affairs, along with ensuring children attend school every day and that communities are safe.”
The report was based on public consultations held last November in Perth, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Kununurra, Darwin, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne – which attracted more than 1600 people.
It also included roundtable meetings between 107 Indigenous leaders, state ministers, industry peak bodies and employers, and follow-up site visits with employers and services providers in February.
349 written submissions from community groups, industry, employment and training service providers, education institutes, and members of the public were received – 79 were in-confidence, the remaining 270 were published on the review website.
In his report, Forrest said that education and employment had the capacity to end the disparity between first Australians and other Australians, but a massive 30-point gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and other Australians existed despite the tens of billions of dollars spent by governments to address Indigenous disadvantage.
“In a nutshell, it’s time to end the paternalism, to expect able first Australians to stand on their own feet and become independent, and for governments and government-funded non-government organisations (NGOs) to remove the impediments so that they can,” Forrest said.
“No existing Federal, State or Territory Government policy has any hope of meeting this challenge if the current policies continue.
“We have failed so far because there is:
a reliance by governments on more public servants and service providers to make the necessary changes rather than empowering first Australians themselves
a lack of coordination and collaboration in Commonwealth and state and territory policies and programmes and how they are implemented
an almost exclusive focus by governments on treating the symptoms of entrenched disadvantage, rather than preventing it, so success is limited and very expensive
drawn-out approaches, such as targets to only halve employment disparity, therefore extending the trajectory of cost, lost opportunity and misery to individuals and to the country
a lack of accountability for results, with service delivery and welfare systems that entrench passive income lifestyles for providers and recipients.”
The report recommendations covered eight areas: Prenatal, early childhood and education; The Healthy Welfare Card; Implementation and accountability; Breaking the welfare cycle; Building capability, dismantling the cash barbeque and eliminating disincentives; Incentives for housing and mobility; Building employer demand; and Empowering people in remote communities to end the disparity themselves.
Abbott said to close the gap by 2018, Australia needed another 188,000 indigenous people in jobs – more than double the current 178,000 indigenous people already employed.
“The Government will carefully consider the report’s recommendations and feedback during the consultation period,” he said.
To view the full report, visit http://indigenousjobsandtrainingreview.dpmc.gov.au/.