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Indigenous employment still an important issue

Improving Indigenous employment outcomes remains a crucial goal for Australian businesses and governments, an industry organisation has claimed.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said the recent release of the 2015 Closing the Gap report showed there was still some way to go before the federal government’s objectives are realised.

Launched in 2008, the Closing the Gap initiative is designed to halve the difference in employment outcomes between Indigenous and other Australians by 2018. Separate targets outlined in the scheme include enhancing life expectancy in Indigenous demographics and improving Year 12 attainment levels.

Kate Carnell, CEO of the ACCI, stated that many businesses have implemented Indigenous employment programs to boost the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but more needs to be done.

“A job for an Indigenous Australian gives that person a chance to support themselves and their family, learn new skills and act as a role model to future generations,” she explained.

According to Ms Carnell, closing the gap would have significant benefits to the wider economy, boosting the country’s competitiveness. She also added that the private sector can provide important opportunities for Indigenous employees.

The benefits of Indigenous employment

An ACCI report from last year highlighted a number of advantages for organisations keen to hire Indigenous employees, including better staff retention for regional and remote workforces.

Jenny Lambert, the organisation’s director of employment, education and training, suggested businesses could be missing out if they fail to take advantage of the available talent pool.

“The report showcases the experiences of employers who have had great success with their Indigenous workforce, including construction services company CFC Group, the Illawarra Retirement Trust and the South Australian Aboriginal Employment Industry Cluster,” she stated.

“These experiences show that with the right approach, companies can enjoy great benefits from a diverse workforce.”

Earlier this month, the federal government announced that its Vocational Training and Employment Centre (VTEC) initiative will soon create 5,470 new jobs for Indigenous workers. These include 255 positions in Brisbane.

A new VTEC, managed by Energy Skills Queensland (ESQ), is expected to add a further 50 jobs in the state’s resources industry, including drilling, catering and trades assistant roles.

“We want to be a part of fostering cultural awareness and local community knowledge among the resource sector and supply chain industries by connecting Indigenous workers to employers,” said ESQ CEO Glenn Porter.

By Leanne Macnamara, Public Affairs Coordinator

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