Generation One, an initiative of Minderoo Foundation dedicated to ending Indigenous employment disparity in one generation, today raised concerns about funding for Indigenous employment programs in the federal budget.
While unemployment may be at a historic low for Australia, this does not appear to include Indigenous Australians or remote communities, with the federal government investing an extra $98 million over 12 months in the remote employment Community Development Program, to manage increased jobseeker demand from the pandemic.
The federal government has invested heavily in skills training and workforce development for the general population, but the specific measures tailored to needs of Indigenous jobseekers are unclear.
Director of Generation One, Shelley Cable, said the federal budget is a missed opportunity to recognise and support the diversity of Indigenous workers, the Indigenous services that support them, and the employers delivering on Indigenous employment parity.
“The ongoing uncertainty over Indigenous employment programs and services has not been fixed in this budget, which continues to apply pressure to the Indigenous employment sector despite its critical role in closing the Indigenous employment gap,” Ms Cable said.
“Generation One welcomes the expansion of the Indigenous Rangers Program, not only for the important economic opportunities it creates, but for its acknowledgment of the value of cultural knowledge in helping build fire and flood resilience.
“However, the ranger investment alone is almost double the total investment into the government’s Indigenous Skills and Employment Program, which will replace the government’s three national Indigenous employment programs later this year,” she said.
Generation One also welcomes the increased investment into Aboriginal community controlled health organisations; and recognition of their critical leadership role in improving health outcomes for Indigenous Australians and in the response to COVID-19. However, this makes the lack of investment into Aboriginal community controlled employment organisations all the more striking.
“We also note with some concern that the federal government is investing $23.7 million to update the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations annually, while there remains no update on the number of Indigenous workers in Australia since 2016,” Ms Cable said.
“Indigenous workers remain invisible and unaccounted for, throughout the pandemic, and are not sharing in Australia’s economic prosperity. We are urgently calling for better visibility of – and investment into – the Indigenous Australian workforce,” she said.
Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.