Eight Ways to Improve the Quality of Indigenous Employment

indigenous procurement policy

The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics study on Indigenous people in the workforce maintains a long-term pattern of low participation. According research findings, non-traditional recruitment agencies, additional education, and continued mentoring and support are critical to increases the participation figures.

While the employment gap narrowed between 1994 and 2008, it appears to have stalled since then. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, labour force participation rate for Indigenous Australians was 58%, compared to 77% for non-indigenous Australians.

Indigenous males were more likely than indigenous females to be in the labour force (65% vs. 52%), as were people in non-remote areas vs. those in remote areas (61% and 49% , respectively). The survey also discovered that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults over the age of 15 were much less likely to be employed than non-Indigenous persons.

Barriers to Indigenous people finding and sustaining employment are the cause of this employment gap. On the demand side, job location, labour market structural change, and employer prejudice all have an impact on Indigenous people’s chances of finding work. Health, education and training, work experience, and caring obligations limit participation on the supply side.

The ABS study is based on data from the 2014 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, which was recently released (NATSISS). This information explains a lot about the reasons behind the disparity in Indigenous labour participation.

The outcomes of education are a major determinant of employment and for Aboriginal Support. A degree-holding Indigenous male or female has an employment rate of 85 percent or 74 percent, respectively. This drops to 62% and 50% for those who have completed Year 12 only, and 43% and 32% for those who have completed Year 9 or less. Education does not determine employment on its own, although it is a significant component.

Current Indigenous employment policies emphasise education but are silent on discrimination. According to the NATSISS data, 33% of adult males and 37% of adult females reported receiving some type of unjust treatment in the preceding year (excluding those who responded that they did not know). It’s worth noting that these percentages are greater for employed Indigenous Australians (35% for men and 38% for women) than for unemployed Indigenous Australians (32% and 36%).

The second most common source of unjust treatment was during employment or when applying for work. It’s understandable that some Indigenous Australians might be hesitant to enter the labour market as a result of this, given that this and other studies reveals that discrimination and unjust treatment are a very real and highly destructive part of the labour market for Indigenous Australians.

There are also significant gender and age inequalities, according to the 2014 NATSISS. Indigenous males under 40 have much greater employment rates than females, just like the rest of the population.

The gender gap narrows significantly for individuals aged 40 and up, with an Indigenous male aged 50-54 being somewhat less likely to be employed than an Indigenous female of the same age. As a result, elder Indigenous males are at the greatest danger of losing their jobs.

According to research, there are a few policies that have the potential to assist Indigenous people in finding work. These were the following:

  • Increasing Indigenous Australians’ skill levels through formal education and training
  • Pre-employment testing and personalised training to get Indigenous job seekers work-ready
  • Recruitment and workplace rules that promote an Indigenous-friendly work environment and ensure that Indigenous people have an equal chance of landing jobs (for example, providing cultural leave)
  • Employer cross-cultural training

However, recruiting is insufficient. Overly high expectations, prejudice and racism, and a lack of acknowledgement of abilities and knowledge are just a few of the challenges to Indigenous workers’ retention in the public sector.

Some solutions to retain employees includes –

  • Ongoing mentoring and assistance along with indigenous procurement policy
  • Flexible work arrangements that help Indigenous employees to balance work, family, and community duties
  • Support for Indigenous employees’ families
  • Dealing with racism in the workplace through initiatives that address the larger workplace culture

In the end, the research reveals that what is going on in the larger labour market is the most important factor influencing Indigenous workforce participation and employment. The state of the economy is critical at the national level. Changes in government funding and industry structure have a disproportionate impact on Indigenous Australians at the local and community level.

However, we lack comprehensive research on which specific interventions will have a meaningful and cost-effective impact on Indigenous employment participation. We haven’t paid attention to the evidence of what has been proved to work (and what hasn’t) in other situations.

Not only has this issue gone unnoticed, but there has also been a lack of genuine self-determination in terms of what Indigenous peoples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait think about priorities and policy solutions.

The Challenges Of Community Development In The Face Of COVID-19

aboriginal communities in Australia

COVID-19 is a fault line that has opened up in our lives. In this post, we’ll look into its current impact on aboriginal communities in Australia, and what it means for future community development. Much has been written about how communities have responded to the crisis, with heartwarming anecdotes of neighbours helping neighbours and a resurgence of compassion and solidarity abounding.

Small-scale local groups mobilised quickly to provide immediate support and guarantee that basic requirements for food, medication, and information were addressed, according to recent research. Using social media to coordinate activities and stay in touch with the most vulnerable, informal neighbourhood networks were quickly established. Before more formal programs were developed, and when high-profile national volunteering attempts failed, these local clubs and networks were often the first line of response. Their understanding of the area was invaluable in identifying service shortages and combatting social isolation.

Within communities, new relationships have evolved that may well outlive the immediate crisis, allowing for the emergence of new kinds of self-organised collective action. In cases where face-to-face interactions are no longer possible, online social interaction services such as WhatsApp and Zoom have provided a lifeline. These are now well-known and will be used for community organising as we progress to the next level.

Major Concerns Surrounding Communities Amidst COVID 19

While initial responses have been promising, as the pandemic continues there are a number of unforeseen long-term consequences of our isolation:

  • To begin with, while social media has become increasingly important to many people, reliance on these platforms has its drawbacks. Not everyone has access to or is comfortable with technology and reliable Wi-Fi. It also can’t replace the unexpected, informal face-to-face meetings that have been lost as a result of people’s reduced mobility – on the street, in community centres, and in so-called “third spaces.” Many common areas remain locked or restricted, limiting opportunities for accidental and spontaneous community encounters that are difficult to sustain through scheduled online discussions. People are claiming that they have been ‘zoomed out.’ In any event, current evidence suggests that social media and face-to-face communication work best together.
  • The fact that “we are not all in it together” is a second problem. With food banks overburdened and an increasing reliance on benefits, the crisis has exposed the fragility and inequity of many people’s lives. People who live in congested housing, are poor, or have precarious jobs are the ones who suffer the most from both the disease and the pandemic’s control attempts resulting in decreased number of Indigenous Literacy and Numeracy. In this sense, going back to the way things were isn’t an option. The situation has brought to light many of the up topics like as ageism, domestic abuse, disability, and mental health. In the following months, there will be a huge disparity in employment and economic security, leading to increased dissatisfaction and frustration. There are serious concerns about the long-term impact of the lockdown and the projected recession on children and young people, who may be more resistant to the illness.
  • Third, the development of a strong sense of community is simply one aspect of the picture. On the other hand, we have generational strife, disagreements over public health laws, and debates over the pace and priority for easing lockdown. Cutbacks have damaged community infrastructure in recent years, but community development in various forms has continued to play a role in many of the most vulnerable regions, providing residents with the skills and confidence to step up when needed.

Communities taking action

We’ve witnessed a strong local response across Australia, with community organisations modifying or extending programmes to meet new and significant demand. Community organisations play an important role in providing emergency food, providing Aboriginal Support and supporting victims of domestic violence, as well as assisting people who are forced to self-isolate by providing practical services and information – all while grappling with new ways of working and social distancing measures.

It’s amazing to see community groups play such a powerful, positive, and necessary role when many individuals continue to endure great challenges, especially those who are most at risk.

Ongoing issues

We also recognise that serious difficulties persist, and that community organisations will require additional support and resources to continue this essential frontline work and assist with recovery in the future.

Staffing concerns, income and reserve depletion, and the need to change to new methods of working remain key concerns, according to groups, and might have substantial repercussions for how they deliver their job now, as well as in the medium to long term. In addition to organisational pressures, organisations have noted an increase in demand for their services, which is expected to persist even when some social distancing measures are lifted.

As we all know, the pandemic’s health, social, and economic consequences will last for a long time. In the future, community organisations will be on the front lines of assisting those who are most vulnerable in their communities.

As the effects of the crisis manifest, it’s critical that they’re recognised, acknowledged, and supported so that their vital job can continue and adapt to the new “normal” that will remain for some time. This entails not only enough, appropriate, and timely resources, but also access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and key worker status if these are required to keep people safe and supported.

We’ve already used the information we’ve gathered to inform how funding and policy might adapt to this catastrophe, and we’ll keep highlighting the needs and priorities of aboriginal communities in Australia in the coming weeks and months. For more info, visit CISAU.