Flexibility and support essential to improving Indigenous employment rates

New information on what works to overcome Indigenous disadvantage, in particular what works to increase Indigenous employment, has been released today by the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse.

The paper, Increasing Indigenous employment rates, looks at measures shown to improve Indigenous employment prospects.

Indigenous Australians have much lower rates of employment than other Australians for a number of reasons, including lower levels of education and training, poorer health, and living in areas with fewer job opportunities.

A number of measures, including increased formal education and training, pre-employment assessment and training programs, and non-standard, Indigenous-specific recruitment strategies are effective in overcoming this disadvantage.

Ongoing measures are also helpful to ensure employment retention, such as the provision of cross-cultural training, flexible working arrangements, ongoing mentoring, and anti-racism initiatives.

The problem of low Indigenous employment rates is magnified by the over-representation of Indigenous Australians in correctional systems—an issue examined in a second paper: Strategies to enhance employment of Indigenous ex-offenders after release from correctional institutions.

There are a number of prison-based and community-based programs aimed at improving employment prospects for ex-prisoners, however, there are only a small number of Indigenous-specific programs.

To address the problem, a long-term, transitional focus is essential, with programs ideally adopting a personalised, case-management approach. Programs incorporating Indigenous knowledge and practices, or involving Indigenous facilitators or elders are also helpful, as is mentoring or other support options.

A free Clearinghouse seminar on what works to increase Indigenous employment will be held on Monday 19 March, 2.00–3.30 pm at the Novotel Hotel Canberra.

The two papers are accompanied by an annual report, What works to overcome Indigenous disadvantage: key learnings and gaps in the evidence 2010-11, which has a focus on early childhood, healthy homes, and governance and leadership.

The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse (www.aihw.gov.au/closingthegap) is jointly funded by all Australian governments and provides an online source of information on what works to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage. It is delivered by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS).

Canberra, 16 March 2012

Further information: Nigel Harding, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1025, mob. 0409 307 671