Indigenous Employment Gap Widening

Release Date: 
3 September 2014
Media release

The employment gap between non-indigenous and indigenous Australians is higher than initially thought, growing by over three percentage points since 2008.

Preliminary data from the 2012-13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey in relation to the indigenous employment rate has been revised downwards.

The initial survey published in February 2014, showed an indigenous mainstream employment rate of 45.9 per cent for people of workforce age, which has been now revised to 45.6 per cent based on the full survey sample.

Despite the 2.6 percentage point fall in indigenous employment rate since 2008, the non-indigenous employment rate rose from 75 per cent to 75.6 per cent over the same period.

Previous policies in indigenous employment are simply not working.  A prime example is Wilcannia in New South Wales.  Despite being a town of around 690 people serviced by over 100 government programmes, the employment rate stands at 38.1 per cent for indigenous people.

The employment gap for indigenous Australians will continue to grow if we do not provide the environment for a safe and healthy community.

Adults’ in employment, children in schools and a safe living environment is the foundation for a healthy community.

We are in the midst of our consultation phase for the Forrest Review and a lack of employment opportunities and being able to move to a job is a key issue limiting employment opportunities for indigenous Australians.

The Forrest Review consultations will involve face-to-face meetings across Australia.  You can also submit online directly through the Review’s website at