The needs of the current Indigenous labour market have become a number one priority for a number of government departments and organisations, representing the Southern Queensland region.
The goal is to raise the participation of Indigenous Australians in the agri-food industries.
Some eight stakeholders, including Agforce, the Queensland Rural Industry Training Council (QRITC), the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F), the Department of Education, Training and the Arts, (DETA) the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, (DEIR) the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, (DEEWR), WCW Consultancy & Training and the Department of Tourism, Regional Development and Industry (DTRDI) have recently held discussions to identify the needs of Indigenous people in South West Queensland, in respect to their current employment situation.
Indigenous representative for the Steering Committee, Charlie Waters, said the discussions, which were made up of two parts, identifying the labour shortages within industry and skills needed for industry, along with examining the unemployment and participation rate of Indigenous Australians within the region.
“We looked at the participation of Indigenous people within the agri-food sector and agri-businesses and how they can come together with employers from the industry,” Mr Waters said.
“The discussions of the committee were an environment of openness, flexibility and responsiveness with actions formulated in regard to matching the Indigenous community and the industry together.
“Participation of Indigenous people within the agri-food sector isn’t high, and unemployed indigenous people could be a major contributor to the labour shortages issue affecting the agri-foods industries,” Mr Waters said.
“In 2009, the Community Development Employment Programs (CDEP) will be disbanded across some of the major communities of the South West, which will result in a large number of Indigenous people seeking further employment.
“We all know that it is may times the most disadvantaged that are affected during times of economic crisis. It is important that at times like these that we build up a good reliable service along with the agri-food sector to capture this human resource and ensure that the industry and the Aboriginal community create a buffer against the crisis” he said.
“There are already a couple of Indigenous employment businesses operating and we hope we can provide and gain further support from government and industry to support these programs. These employment operations could be implemented across the whole sector.”
The result of the discussion – the Scoping Analysis – which was facilitated by Queensland Rural Industry Training Council, and undertaken by consultants Peter and Rochelle Jesser identified that:
1. Agriculture is a historical employer of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the South Western region;
2. That rural areas present the most difficulties to policy makers in tackling the issue of Aboriginal inequality in economic participation;
3. The current economic situation of Aboriginal people is closely related to economic changes in the rural economy.
The Scoping Analysis report will be launched at All Seasons Function Centre, Toowoomba on February 12.