Policies must change to close employment gap

Release Date: 
23 January 2014
Media release

New figures released today by the Coalition Government reveal Australia’s Indigenous employment gap has widened over the last 5 years.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Alan Tudge, said that new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows a fall in Australia’s Indigenous employment rate, despite a continuing increase in the non-indigenous rate.

“In 2008, the then government promised to halve the Indigenous employment gap within a decade, but we are now past the halfway mark and the gap has widened by 2.8 per cent.”

“This is despite a positive trend in indigenous employment spanning over fifteen years prior to 2008”

“Almost half of all working age Indigenous Australians receive welfare as their main source of income”

“Our objective is to reverse the reliance on passive welfare and support more Indigenous Australians into work.”

Despite an increase in the actual number of Indigenous people working since 2008, jobs growth has not kept up with the indigenous population increase. If this trend continues, the proportion of Indigenous people employed will continue to fall.

Only 46 per cent of the Indigenous working age population are in jobs today.

“Employment is the motor of reconciliation. People who are employed tend to have better health, housing and general well-being. We must lift the indigenous employment rate to address our nation’s greatest social inequity.”

The Coalition Government has already started a number of reforms consistent with our election commitment to end the jobs disparity, including:

  • Immediate action to address problems with the former government’s new job services programme for remote Australia (RJCP);
  • Investing $45 million for new VTECs; and
  • Establishing the Indigenous Jobs and Training Review led by Andrew Forrest

The Forrest Review has already received more than 350 submissions, conducted forums across the country attended by over 1,600 people; and had meetings with over 40 of Australia’s business and employment leaders and other experts.

Mr Forrest will report to the Government in April.

Attachment – Indigenous employment rates, 2008 and 2012/13

In 2008 COAG agreed to halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade (by 2018). The target is measured with data on the employment rate, which is the proportion of people aged 15 to 64 who are employed.

The baseline data on Indigenous employment for 2008 are derived from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS). The non-Indigenous employment data are derived from the ABS, Survey of Education and Work.

Estimates of Indigenous employment are sensitive to changes in the number of Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) participants as the ABS treats CDEP participants as being employed. Table 1 below provides estimates of Indigenous employment rates with and without CDEP, and also shows the employment gap for 2008 and 2012/13, and the change in this gap.

The new ABS figures for 2012/13 means that for the first time there are two measurements of the same data series within the Closing the Gap decade (2008-2018).

    2008* 2012/13** change 2008-2012/13
Table 1 Indigenous and non-Indigenous employment rates and gaps, 2008 and 2012–13
I

Number of persons ('000)

INDIGENOUS

Employed persons - CDEP participants
Employed persons - non-CDEP
Total employed persons
Total population aged 15-64

NON-INDIGENOUS

Total employed persons
Total population aged 15-64

 

 

17.6
149.9
167.4
311.1

 

10,0220
13,627

 

 

7.3
177.7
185.0
387.2

 

11,017
14,580

 

 

-10.3
27.8
17.5
76.1

 

797
952

II

Employment rates (%)

INDIGENOUS

CDEP-inclusive employment rate
Non-CDEP employment rate

NON-INDIGENOUS

Employment rate

 

 

53.8%
48.2%

 

75.0%

 

 

47.8%
45.9%

 

75.6%

(10 % points)

 

-6.0
-2.3

 

0.6

III

Gaps in employment rates (percentage points)

CDEP-inclusive employment rate
Non-CDEP employment rate

 

 

21.2
26.8

 

 

27.8
29.7

 

 

6.6
2.8

*
Source: ABS, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 for Indigenous data.
Source: ABS, Survey of Education and Work, 2008 for non-Indigenous data
**
Source: ABS, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2012−13 for Indigenous data
Source: ABS, Survey of Education and Work, 2012 for non-Indigenous data.
Note the ABS tabulations of the 2012−13 Indigenous data have been adjusted to account for the few cases where the CDEP status for persons employed was not collected.
In Part III a positive value in the change in the gap indicates an increase in the gap between 2008 and 2012/13.

Data can also be accessed on http://www.indigenous.gov.au/economic-participation/indigenous-employment-rates-2008-and-201213/