Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Increasing employment and participation in remote Indigenous communities

Joint Media Release with:

  • Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for Human Services
    Senator Mark Arbib, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development

The Australian Government is continuing to support Indigenous people in remote communities to find work and training opportunities, providing $6.5 million for Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) and improving the way job service providers operate.

This builds on the Government’s major reforms to the CDEP program and Indigenous employment services, introduced in July 2009.

Since these reforms were introduced, the CDEP program has assisted 3,283 Indigenous people into work and 3,196 people into training.

The Australian Government recognises that additional work is needed to ensure that more Indigenous Australians have the skills necessary to get and keep a job.

A job contributes strongly to personal, social and economic development and is essential for closing the gap.

The Government will provide $6.5 million to continue the payment of CDEP wages to participants currently receiving CDEP wages through to April 2012.

The Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said extending CDEP wages until April 2012 would provide stability to the program while ongoing discussions about the way services are delivered are held with local communities to ensure they reflect local needs.

“CDEP does play an important role in preparing people for employment through training, mentoring and community development activities, but it should not be a substitute for employment,” Ms Macklin said.

“The Government’s reforms aim to see people transition out of CDEP into work with proper wages and conditions including superannuation and leave entitlements.”

The Government is also working to ensure better links between CDEP programs, employment service providers and Centrelink in remote communities.

“Employment service providers and CDEP organisations need to work closely to ensure job seekers receive work experience and training, and take part in other participation projects,” Ms Macklin said.

Under a new program to be piloted in nine remote areas, Centrelink will conduct joint interviews with job seekers and their employment service providers to make sure everyone agrees to a common employment and training plan and commits to making it work.

This will help identify barriers to employment such as low literacy or health problems and assist job seekers to be referred to appropriate services for support. It will also make sure participation obligations are understood by job seekers.

“We believe these arrangements will deliver a more cohesive service for job seekers. The pilot program will help inform Centrelink’s work in other communities in remote Australia,” the Minister for Human Services Tanya Plibersek said.

The Australian Government will also continue to work with local and regional employers in remote communities to place Indigenous people into jobs.

“Under the Indigenous Employment Program, the Government can bring Indigenous jobseekers, employers and training providers together in flexible ways,” the Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development Mark Arbib said.

“Since July 2009 the IEP has supported 175 tailored assistance projects in remote locations, leading to over 8000 placements in employment and training. We recently supported local Indigenous people into work at the Argyle Diamond mine in the Kimberley and at the Mount Willoughby Station in northern South Australia.

“Striking these practical agreements between Indigenous job seekers, employers, training organisations and governments is key to making progress on the Government’s target of halving the employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2018.”