In a show of national support, mining magnate Andre Forrest has called for greater industry job opportunities for indigenous Australians.
Forrest has stated that under his Australian Employment Covenant (AEC) 330 industry companies have provided 61,000 jobs to Ingenious Australians since 2008, with a further 10,000 jobs created.
While Indigenous leaders are supporting the AEC due to the job opportunities this will open up – along with an assurance of shared mining wealth – the federal government is not receiving the same reaction in their response to the employment support initiative.
The key issue lies in skills training. While the increased job opportunities are being made apparent, Forrest has stated that the federal government is not providing correct training, leaving businesses skills-short and keeping potential workers unemployed.
“My strong recommendation to the government is that not one more dollar be spent on indigenous training – including job service agencies and indigenous employment programs – unless attached to a real job commitment by a participating employer,” says Forrest. “Employers report that for every one job that is filled, two go unfilled due to a lack of available, job-ready indigenous applicants.”
Forrest has garnered the support of both Indigenous Economic Development Minister Julie Collins and former magistrate Sue Gordon, with the former pushing for more streamlined and relevant training and the latter offering a potential explanation as to why the government is not wholeheartedly backing this initiative.
Gordon says that despite overwhelming support from both Indigenous communities and the mining industry, the government will not commit because it is not a government initiative.
“We’ve got these pledges and we can’t get a government to commit to the real training,” says Gordon. “There’s this great bag of money there, if they would just listen to people who are actually making it happen.”
The pressure on the government will continue to be applied as the employment initiative continues to garner support Australia-wide. With so much support and positivity toward the program, in order to sway the tides of unrest the federal government’s response will need to be convincing.