Thursday, 5 August 2021
Questions without Notice
Closing the Gap
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator Cash. Can the minister advise the Senate how the Liberal and Nationals government is supporting Indigenous Australians to upskill and gain employment opportunities to support Closing the Gap?
I thank Senator O'Sullivan for the question and I acknowledge Senator O'Sullivan's previous role in working with the Minderoo Foundation in particular and his dedication to ensuring that Indigenous people were given every opportunity to get a job. Senator O'Sullivan clearly understands the benefits of upskilling and of re-skilling to ensure that people are equipped with what they need, those necessary skills, to move into employment. Today's release of the Closing the Gap Implementation Plan was well and truly an important moment for our nation, but it also shows the important work that all partners of this historic agreement are doing to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians. In the 2021-22 budget the Morrison government delivered funding for substantial reforms to help Indigenous Australians get into quality and long-lasting jobs, both now and into the future. That is why we're delivering a $243.6 million new Indigenous skills and jobs advancement package. This is all about improving the economic, the social and the educational outcomes for Indigenous Australians. What this investment includes is around $42.8 million per annum, which will then grow to $60 million per annum in future years, for the Indigenous advancement strategy for a new skills and employment program. The program will build on the most successful elements of the current Indigenous-specific employment programs and focus, so importantly, on upskilling Indigenous Australians for in-demand jobs—we want them to get into work—and also putting in place those mechanisms to support them into employment.
Again, I thank Senator O'Sullivan for the question. We know that to continue to close the gap—and obviously we're all committed to closing the gap—and to empower Indigenous Australians, we need to work together with all sectors of the community and with all levels of government to improve opportunities. In the 2020-21 budget again the Morrison government committed to investing in pilot programs to ensure that employment services align to the changing job market—as we know COVID-19 has impacted that job market—and in particular the changing job market in remote Australia in order to meet the unique needs of jobseekers in remote communities. The new pilots will commence in a number of locations by the end of 2021 following, so importantly, a co-design process. Then we will progressively roll out the program in—
Again, as part of our plan—in particular to assist in securing Australia's recovery but also to continue to meet the Closing the Gap employment targets—we are prioritising funding from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy to support economic growth but also to ensure that we are providing jobs on country. Through the 2021-22 budget, we're delivering $10 million over the next two years to support Indigenous businesses and community organisations involved in the primary industry and land management sector to grow, to prosper and to create more jobs, particularly for Indigenous Australians. By supporting Indigenous businesses, we are working together to improve employment, economic development and social participation. Again, we know that to continue to close the gap and empower Indigenous Australians, we need to work together with all sectors of government.