I am going to be very brief, and just let me make a few quick points before handing it over to Mr Forrest to host the meeting.
Firstly, we are all here because we are interested in Indigenous Employment.
We know that if people have got a reasonable education and have a job that everything else is so much easier.
There’s so much dignity, there’s empowerment, there is economic independence which comes with working and holding a job.
But we also know that too many of our first Australian’s do not have work.
The unemployment rate is three times higher than the non-indigenous unemployment rate.
Almost half of indigenous Australians are reliant upon welfare as their main source of income and the gap is not closing on current trajectory.
So we do need to do things differently.
Now from the Federal Governments perspective this is one of our absolutely top priorities to address and this is the first wave that we are trying to grapple with this, is through this Employment Review which Mr Forrest is heading up and which the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is supporting and the reason why we are all here today.
We are here because we want to hear from as many of you as possible today, but additionally we want you to submit written submissions as well if you would like to and then there is going to be further consultations over the weeks and months ahead.
The person that I am going to hand the microphone over to is Mr Andrew Forrest who a local boy everybody knows here, he’s been a tireless local advocate for indigenous employment for a very long time.
He founded the Australian Employment Covenant, now managed by GenerationOne. 60,000 real jobs have been pledged by employers and this has led to 13,000 indigenous people being placed in real jobs.
And in terms of his company – he is leading the way having set a target of 20 per cent indigenous employment in his own company, and awarded in excess of $1 billion in contracts to indigenous subcontracting businesses.
Also the reason he was appointed by the Prime Minister to head this up, is not because he’s a shy retiring violet, to the contrary.
And it’s precisely because he does challenge the orthodoxy and because he has an absolute passion for this area that he’s been asked to chair this review and being supported by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and it’s for this reason also that we’ve invited all of you along here today.
I also would like to recognise Marcia Langton who is in the audience today.
She will be working alongside Andrew on the review and as many of you will know is a highly respected academic and dynamic individual.
There’s tremendous expertise in this room, there’s tremendous knowledge and experience, we are keen to hear from you directly.
Thank you very much for coming along today. I’m now very pleased to pass it over to Andrew to host this meeting.