Jun 4, 2010

Rudd overpromised on indigenous unemployment

Tthe Australian government might have exacerbated the expansion of the Indigenous unemployment gap, report Professor Jon Altman and Dr Nicholas Biddle.

Yesterday, employment data for 2008 and 2009, the first two years of the Rudd government, were released. And the figures suggest that rather than delivering on their ‘closing the gap’ pledge, the Australian government might have exacerbated the expansion of the indigenous unemployment gap it has committed to halve.

In early 2008 the incoming Rudd government made its national apology to indigenous Australians and with rhetorical flourish the prime minister launched the Closing the Gap policy framework. This admirable document includes six statistical targets to either reduce or eliminate life expectancy, mortality rate, educational and employment gaps between indigenous and other Australians.

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13 thoughts on “Rudd overpromised on indigenous unemployment

  1. SBH

    The supply side of this equation is a small problem compared to the demand side. Employers do’nt hire indigenous people. They don’t for various reasons including racism, poor targetting of ads, poor reputations in the community, innadequate evaluation of skills and abilities and lack of direct connection with indigenous communities. And EVERY TIME I meet with people they say the AEC will fix the problem.

    Ultimately, the only thing that lifted rates of women in the workforce was legislation. Its about time that legislation is passed to ensure that Aboriginal people are treated fairly by the labour market instead of equally.

    Thanks for a great piece John and Nicholas

  2. davidk

    I w as a little sceptical of the validity of Twiggy’s plan at the time. I wonder how long it will be before the RSPT is blamed for the winding back of this proposal.

  3. Legrosbisson

    Andrew Forrest’s initiative supplements the efect of a Minerals Council of Australia MOU with the Commonwealth to lift Aboriginal employment in the resources sector, especially in the remote areas where mines and Aboriginal communities coincide. The current MOU was recently renewed, following a sustained effort by industry over a decade.

    But the industry was apparently in despair over the Commonwealth’s failure to meet its commitments under the first five year MOU. Many resources companies have given up on the byzantine government employee assistance arrangements, covering all costs and hiring their own experts. There was as a result reluctance to sign the recent renewal. A recent MCA study forms the basis for a current MCA assertion that Aboriginal people would be about 1.2 billion dollars better off via improved employment if the Commowealth had met its employment training and mentoring commitments under the first MOU.

  4. David Thackrah

    Nothing has changed since the 1950’s. The aboriginal people “have their own mind” on the issue of working in the standard Australian pattern, despite having fine minds and an ability to focus on work at hand if they so wish.

    If a solution as to precise equality is to emerge, it will have to come from the “cousins” themselves. They are loyal Australians with passion for the natural environment. Their thinking is not all about the 40 hour week or award wages.

    I do think the furtive introduction of “off-shore” labour cuts across the intention to employ indigenous people, who can also be engineers and safety officers as well, as it appears contract off-shore labour deflects on-costs due to Australian labour.

  5. SBH

    Legrosbisson – yeah that’s right mate, it’s the governments fault. well spotted.

  6. Boerwar

    It is a pity that the stats don’t provide insight into the dynamics of what is happening. In particular it would be interesting to know what happened in relation to the old CDEP numbers and the new numbers in relation to jobs that were created out of the CDEP funds. The numbers involved are large enough to have made a significant impact on the percentages.

    Another stat that would be available would be to have a look at the number of Indigenous people employed in the APS. I would have thought that this is the easiest and most direct area for the Commonwealth Government to have a direct impact on Indigenous employment.

    I would not be holding my breath.

    Anyway, time for a properly focussed study and yet another report, I suppose.

  7. Boerwar

    Whoops. I was commenting on the short article in crikey, not the full one.

  8. Marion Scrymgour

    I thank Jon Altman for once again placing his measured and diligently researched assessment into the public domain. He has been sounding the same warning alarm for some years now, and had alreading influenced me when back in October 2007 I made these comments about CDEP:

    “Unlike any other in the western world, the Howard Government, as part of their response to the National Emergency, has embarked on a deliberate policy of moving people from work to welfare. In their bid to control the incomes of as many Aboriginal people as possible – and discovering that CDEP is classified as waged income, and not welfare – they are in the process of dismantling CDEP, and announced it as part of the intervention on 23 July. For people on CDEP, that means being told their wages – earned through the sweat of the brow are to be abolished, and they are to be moved back to Work for the Dole, or short term training programs. To be sure, some will get full time jobs – however almost exclusively in the public sector at local and Territory Government level. However, some 7,500 people currently on CDEP, some 5,500 people will be thrown out of work. This will push the Aboriginal unemployment rates in the Territory to over 50 per cent, and in remote areas to 75 per cent. I have been astonished at the way in which the Federal Government – and Minister for Workplace Participation Sharman Stone – has been able to get away with this – and convince the media in particular that what they are saying is anything other than a lie and a hoax. She has continually been able to get away with stating that CDEP is welfare – when it is in fact an employment program that has been in existence for 30 years. She has continually referred to CDEP as “sit down money”, when in fact CDEP was created specificially to get people off the dole – “sit down money” and into work. She re-invents history, and she has got away with the oft-repeated lie that people now on CDEP will be “transitioned” to “real jobs” when only a fraction will successfully get jobs. And the media – and initially Federal Labor – have swallowed the lie. At least Federal Labor has been persuaded by its Territory parliamentary representatives to ressurect a reformed CDEP if they are elected”.

    To my great regret, that last bit didn’t come true. Instead the current Federal Labor Government did a renaming trick with CDEP abolition/reform that was similar to what they have done with the Waste Management facility legislation. The so-called “reformed” CDEP programs that are living on borrowed time in the Territory now bear little resemblance to the true CDEP programs that existed before the intervention and have really just served to formalise the “workfare to welfare” transition that Jon Altman refers to. The grotesque stupidity of the prohibition on “top-up” reflects a particular mindset that has taken root in the current Ministers office – something like: “It takes a State to fixed a failed state”. Big Government rules ok.

  9. Boerwar

    So, did the 7500 CDEP places that were replaced with 2000 jobs equal a net loss of 5500 jobs in the employment stats?

  10. Boerwar

    Nationally, there has been a loss of around 2000 jobs. If jobs were lost because of the end of CDEP, then the net change in jobs would be -7500 CDEP+2000 replacement=5500 CDEP losses, offset by increases elsewhere of 3500, to lead to a net loss of 2000.

    Not sure if these sums mean anything at all, but would be very interested in knowing if not.

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