Call for indigenous jobs plan in budget | The Australian
JULIA Gillard must overhaul her indigenous jobs strategy in the May budget or risk failing to reach her Closing The Gap targets, former young Australian of the Year and GenerationOne spokesperson Tania Major said yesterday.
Ms Major said indigenous people needed to be found a job first, and training should be provided afterwards or they would languish on welfare because of a broken system.
She warned the government to stop “dragging the chain” and thinking it could dream up miracle solutions. Instead it should take advice from people who knew what was wrong and wanted a new approach.
“I think if the government is actually serious about ending the disparity or closing the gap as they promote, well I think they need to look at this employment area,” she said. “Our big push is that employment is paramount.”
Ms Major said that rather than abolishing Community Development Employment Projects, the Aboriginal work-for-the-dole scheme, it would be better to keep it and remake it to link into a new job creation scheme.
The federal government has postponed indefinitely plans to shift the indigenous unemployed from the make-work CDEP to the dole. It is the third time in three years that top-up payments under the CDEP, due to be cut for existing beneficiaries, have been given a reprieve.
“Everyone is looking for the holy grail but I think that people should go back 15 or 20 years and see how stable communities were with people on CDEP,” Ms Major said. “Everyone is looking for all these solutions but the problem with all these solutions is that they are coming from outside in.”
Ms Major wants the budget to fund a new job placement system for indigenous Australians and create one-stop Vocational Training and Employment Centres around Australia, starting with four demonstration sites that find a job first and then train unemployed people for it.
These new VTECs would better connect the 60,000 jobs committed by businesses to the Australian Employment Covenant to job-ready indigenous candidates.
She said CDEP participants should be kept and trained after jobs were found for them as part of this new system.
“CDEP could be used as a model, as a training component to this. They need to stop making decisions in Canberra and finding out what works,” she said.
Indigenous Economic Development Minister Julie Collins said she could not comment on what was or was not in the federal budget.
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