The govt will pump hundreds of millions of dollars into its new ‘Remote Jobs’ program

The govt will pump hundreds of millions of dollars into its new ‘Remote Jobs’ program

As Canberra prepares to deliver another disappointing update on the Closing the Gap targets, the Albanese government has announced a new policy aimed at improving remote employment.

The government says the program will create 3000 jobs in remote communities across the country, and improve living standards for First Nations people.

With over $700 million dollars earmarked for its implementation, the policy represents the first major government initiative in Indigenous affairs since the failure of the Voice to Parliament referendum.

It is also a replacement for the Abbott-era ‘Community Development Program’ (CDP), which the government derided as a failure.

“In remote communities, the number one issue raised with me is fixing up the mess left by the Liberals’ failed CDP,” said Indigenous Affairs minister Linda Burney.

“People in remote communities should have access to the benefits and dignity of work – for themselves, their families and the next generation.

“This is about putting communities in the driver’s seat to create local jobs and businesses.”

Closing the Gap targets on track to fail

The announcement of the policy also comes after the Productivity Commission warned last week that many Closing the Gap targets were either stalled or failing.

The aim to increase the number of Indigenous youth aged 15 to 24 who are in employment, education or training to 67 per cent by 2031 is not on track.

In the Northern Territory, home to many of the remote communities formerly covered by the CDP, and now the Remote Jobs program, the target of 62 per cent employment for 25- to 64-year-olds is also not on track.

In its report, the Commission made scathing assessments of successive governments’ failures, and recommended the importance of Indigenous data sovereignty and a wholesale rethink of government systems.

It placed special emphasis on encouraging government to ensure that, in pursuing the targets, power is shared with Indigenous organisations.

“Governments need to trust that by relinquishing control over decisions they are enabling better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” the report states.

The Albanese government has said it will work with the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations in order to design and implement the new program, and that it will be “grounded in self-determination”.

Gap within a Gap

The announcement also coincides with the 16th anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s 2008 Apology to the Stolen Generations.

As events around the country prepare to commemorate the occasion, advocates have warned that survivors of the Stolen Generations are at a pronounced risk, and that a “gap within the gap” exists.

“As the report is handed down today, we must recognise that Stolen Generations survivors are a ‘gap within the gap’, a statistical indicator of truth not reconciled,” the National Healing Foundation said in a statement.

“As Stolen Generations survivors age, urgency grows. Many survivors have still not had access to redress schemes, a cornerstone of the Bringing Them Home report that was delivered nearly 30 years ago.

“Survivors are ageing and face multiple challenges stemming from histories of forced removal, many will not access aged care services as a result.”

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