May 28, 2012

Twiggy v Gillard on Aboriginal jobs: who’s really delivering?

Andrew Forrest signalled another war of words with the Gillard government over his plan for indigenous jobs. So who has the figures right? Kirrily Jordan from ANU's Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research explains.

Andrew Forrest’s recent address to the National Press Club signalled another war of words with the Gillard government, this time over his plan for indigenous jobs. Forrest used the occasion to criticise the government’s approach to training indigenous job seekers, arguing that billions was being wasted on training programs that failed to lead to sustainable employment.

In making his case, Forrest relied on a key set of figures. He stated that while the government’s efforts at assisting indigenous job seekers to find work through its Job Services Australia scheme have resulted in a retention rate of only 45% over three months, his own indigenous jobs program — the Australian Employment Covenant — has effected 10,500 job placements and a retention rate of more than 70% after six months. According to Forrest, this is evidence that his model works where the government’s approach too regularly fails.

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9 thoughts on “Twiggy v Gillard on Aboriginal jobs: who’s really delivering?

  1. paddy

    That’s a damn fine piece on a complex subject KJ.
    I’m far better informed after reading it. Bravo and thanks.

  2. Gavin Moodie

    I agree with Paddy and add my thanx for this piece.

  3. Andrew K

    Why don’t we have programs on the ABC that take a half-hour to provide a run-down of issues such as these? Surely a series of programs combining topical issues as they emerge (such as this one) with a mixture of important concerns that could be articulated at any stage would not be particularly expensive to commission, and would undoubtedly provide excellent ‘value for money’ by providing a foil to the sound-bite driven current media, which (whilst there are exceptions) repeatedly demonstrates in inability to provide rigorous analysis without encouraging truly informed questioning?

    If only Four Corners/Insiders/The Drum/Q&A succeeded at this…but unfortunately all fail for various reasons.

  4. mattsui

    Kudos on the article. One wonders at the motives of Mr Forrest. While it is entirely possible that he wants to be a hero for the indiegnous people, it is also true that a large and very loud element of the protests against mining projects in the North West come from those very same people.
    Mining damages the land and theartens sites of spiritual importance and divides communities along the way.
    Governments – State/Fed. Lab./Lib. – have no excuse for their failure of the Aboriginal people but I doubt Twiggy’s chances of ever being seen as their Saviour, no matter how much newsprint is wasted on him.

  5. minnamurra

    It is excellent to have someone watching and critically analysing while governments and developers play fast and loose with the statistics in Aboriginal affairs – quality journalism. It is not available in the mainstream Australian press.

  6. minnamurra

    PS When are people going to stop asking Marcia Langton for her opinion on everything Aboriginal?

  7. rudimax

    Great to see a story about this topic that hasn’t merely repeated as gospel everything Twiggy has said and includes some useful analysis – thank you.

  8. davidk

    Ditto to the above, good stuff. Of course reminds one of ” Lies, damned lies and statistics”
    Also I wouldn’t trust Twiggy as far as I could spit.

  9. SBH

    Thanks for bringing this issue to the fore again Kirrily. Your right that data should be viewed in an informed context and figures shouldn’t be just thrown around. I further agree that counting jobs is a complex affair and liable to miscounting.

    However the AEC claims continue to fail any reasonable test. This is a great shame because the people I’ve met at the AEC are really good people who struggle under a public relations storm of misrepresentation.

    I’d like to measure the stats – in this case any stats anyone is prepared to stand behind against some facts. The fact is that Forrest never got within a bull’s roar of his ‘commitment’ to find 50,000 jobs (not placements not pledges but jobs) for indigenous Australians within two years.

    Readers would also be interested in a paper (wp274) by a Post-doctoral fellow of CAEPR (supported by an intern) which makes the somewhat pithy point about the need for greater transparency from Forrest.

    Keep up the good work.

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