Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Discussion paper on Indigenous employment reforms

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP, Minister for Employment Participation

A discussion paper to encourage debate and ideas on economic development and jobs for Indigenous Australians was released today by the Australian Government.

The Government is developing a new strategy to build the strong foundations necessary for sustainable Indigenous economic development across Australia.

The nationwide consultations, which start tomorrow, will focus on how to reform two existing employment and work-readiness programs – Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) and the Indigenous Employment Program (IEP).

This includes how to remove disincentives for people to study, train, or take up other work outside CDEP and how to encourage people to travel for work and training opportunities.

Building the job aspirations of young Indigenous people is key to turning around the low participation rates and passive welfare.

Indigenous employment participation is low and many communities cannot access job opportunities. Demographic changes mean that the gap will only widen without urgent action.

The discussion paper looks at how individuals, businesses, communities and partnerships must be involved to lift Indigenous employment rates. It also builds on the principle that improved universal employment services and training places are essential for sustained economic development.

The Government is committed to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and has set targets across six areas, including halving the gap in employment outcomes within a decade.

The paper also looks at how employers of Indigenous workers can be better supported, building on the success of the Structure Training and Development Program (STEP) and Structured Training and Employment Projects Related Services (STEPERS) programs.

The Indigenous Economic Development Strategy (IEDS) will be launched later this year and will complement the Government’s new employment services model to be implemented from July 2009.

The Australian Government will hold consultations on the discussion paper across the country in capital cities, regional centres and remote communities.

Increasing Indigenous economic opportunity – A discussion paper on the future of the CDEP and the Indigenous Employment Program (IEP) along with details of consultation sessions are available at the Indigenous Portal website ( or by calling 1300 733 514.