ABC Radio National AM Program

Release Date: 
6 May 2014

Topics: Indigenous Jobs and Training Review

CHRIS UHLMANN: Next week's budget will make it harder to get the dole. This morning, AM can reveal the Government's being urged to strip welfare from teenagers if they're not in school, work or training. The idea will come from a review of Indigenous training by billionaire miner Andrew Forrest. Not every element of the plan will be accepted, but the strong message the Government intends to send in recasting all benefits is 'earn or learn'. Eliza Borrello has followed the story to Dubbo in New South Wales' central west. (Sound of amateur Rugby League game)

ELIZA BORRELLO: In this part of the world, Rugby League is king. Established in WA, the Clontarf Foundation started out using AFL to get Aboriginal boys to school. But as the Prime Minister's Parliamentary Secretary Alan Tudge has learnt, around here, it wouldn't fly.




LOCAL YOUTH 3: Oh, there's one.

ELIZA BORRELLO: Clontarf isn't just about football. Fourteen-year-old Dennis Cutmore and his classmates are being prepared for work.

DENNIS CUTMORE: I'd actually like to do work with kids my age or just anyone really, even troubled youth… just youth in particular, or probably a science teacher.

ELIZA BORRELLO: Liam Toner is the Clontarf Foundation's Regional Manager for New South Wales. He says generational unemployment puts many of his students at an immediate disadvantage.

LIAM TONER: Some of our fellas come from a background where they're not used to seeing both parents get up in the morning, have breakfast as a family, and then the student goes off to school and the parents go off to work.

ELIZA BORRELLO: Mining magnate Andrew Forrest is finalising a government-commissioned review of Indigenous training and employment. One of his recommendations would see people under 19, whether they're Indigenous or not, lose their welfare benefits if they're not in school or work. Alan Tudge says it will be considered.

ALAN TUDGE: There will always be an exemption for particular hardship, but the overall rule needs to be a hard one, because we do no-one a service by making welfare an attraction for a person to leave school and go onto the dole.

ELIZA BORRELLO: The budget will include tough earn or learn measures. AM has confirmed school leavers will be forced to wait six months before they can apply for welfare. Something else the Government's keen to see is more Aboriginal people chasing work further afield.

ALAN TUDGE: It's up to an individual to decide whether or not they want to take those opportunities but we certainly want to encourage them and create the incentives.

ELIZA BORRELLO: Not everyone's on board.

WES MORRIS: What we've seen time and time again is that not only is it bad for the individual but it's also a very bad employment outcome.

ELIZA BORRELLO: Wes Morris is the co-ordinator of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre in WA.

WES MORRIS: People have connection to family; people have connection to their cultural roots, to their identity, and to their places.

ELIZA BORRELLO: But Dubbo Indigenous elder Frank Doolan believes having a job is more important.

FRANK DOOLAN: You can have all the culture under the sun and, you know, you can sort of end up treading water or staying in the one spot. I believe that what we need to do is give our young people every opportunity to take a rightful place in this society.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Indigenous elder Frank Doolan ending that report by Eliza Borrello.