NITV Interview

Release Date: 
21 November 2013

Subjects: Indigenous Jobs and Training Review

ALAN TUDGE: We have had fabulous meetings so far. Nearly every single one has been exceptionally well attended. There have probably been over a thousand people to date who have come along and contributed their ideas.

There have been some common themes throughout.

One is in relation to having to get kids to school so that they’re educated and can be employed. The second has been in relation to some of the disincentives to going into work, and needing to address some of those disincentives - that includes looking at housing as well, as there are disincentives there. And there is also probably the single most central thing that has come up in almost every single discussion we’ve had, which is the need to convert from having training for trainings sake into training leading into a job.

REPORTER: So what are the housing problems – why are they disused?

ALAN TUDGE: Many people have raised with us that if they go into a job they all of a sudden might hit the income threshold, which means they then lose their house, and so people have told us directly that they don’t take a job or they even drop out of their job in order to keep their house.

Clearly we want to be providing as many incentives as possible for people to step into work, rather than step back from work.

REPORTER: What about those fundamental problems that Andrew was just talking about – getting kids to school, getting them to finish school, getting them to stay at school. How do you address that?

ALAN TUDGE: We are all ears on that. I mean this is one of the reasons why we’re travelling around the countryside speaking to as many people as possible. We’re also taking a look at some of the things that have been working well, so there are models around the country where there is higher school attendance – let’s take a look at that. Why is that occurring there, and can it be replicated.

REPORTER: And what about, I know, with generation one there is the whole VTEC model – is that something that you see as working and something you would like to pursue?

ALAN TUDGE: We have an election commitment to spend $45 million in rolling out several more VTEC’s around the country, but we also want to get other people’s opinion as to whether or not that is something that they’d like to see more of in other places around the country as well.

REPORTER: And what are you hearing about that?

ALAN TUDGE: We’re hearing the overall theme that training needs to lead to a job and VTEC’s are very good at that. We went and saw the one in the Pilbara, that’s been getting outstanding results. Where people who may have very few skills and might even have literacy and numeracy weaknesses, or they might not have a drivers licence, but if they walk through the door at VTEC they’ll have a guaranteed job at the end if they stick with the program. They might only take three months – some people might take six or nine months, but there will be a guaranteed job at the end and that appears to be working very well. 

REPORTER: And your term, what are your targets in terms of the indicators you’d like to see with indigenous employment. What’s your goal?

ALAN TUDGE: From the Government’s perspective, we’ve committed to the ‘closing the gap’ targets which have to halve the employment disparity by 2018 – that’s the official closing the gap target which is the official government commitment.

REPORTER: Is that going to work? Are you on target?

ALAN TUDGE: To date, over the last few years, the gap has been getting wider rather than closing. We’ve got to do things differently and that’s what this review is about.

REPORTER: The comment that you made about Alice Springs, when you visited, about people being ‘idle’ – can you just tell me a little bit about what you meant by that?

ALAN TUDGE: The overall message I was trying to say, and I wrote an article about this, is that we need to speak a positive language in terms of looking at what can individuals do tomorrow rather than what can’t individuals do.

 And the same in relation to what governments and businesses can do – what can we do, rather than what can’t we do. I think we just need to be overall more optimistic and positive about what we can achieve together.

REPORTER: But what did you mean by being ‘idle’?

ALAN TUDGE: The overall message was we need to be positive about what people can do. There are too many people who haven’t got work, and if you’re young, capable and you haven’t got work and you’re on welfare for several years at a time, then the road back to employment is very steep. Everybody has an interest to ensure that people can go from school, directly into training and into a job.