Moving forward to reduce Indigenous unemployment in SA

In a push to encourage greater Indigenous participation in South Australia’s workforce, local businesses are being called upon to create more job opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The unemployment rate for Indigenous South Australians is at 22 per cent, compared to 6.2 per cent for non-Indigenous South Australians.

The Don Dunstan Foundation in partnership with the Governors Leadership Foundation Program has released the findings of a new report – ‘Increasing Aboriginal Participation in the South Australian Economy’, to identify innovative ways to close this employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Don Dunstan Foundation Executive Director David Pearson says we can all do more to close this gap, many organisations want to help, but often haven’t known where to start.

This report, prepared by a Governors Leadership Foundation Program participants, sets out options for how all of us can help.

“It’s important to remember that Indigenous South Australians hold the key in leading this process. They understand the issues and their ongoing engagement is critical to achieving more job opportunities.”

The report’s range of solutions include:

  • Support the Indigenuity SA Aboriginal Business Expo
  • Promote the Implementation of Reconciliation Action Plans
  • Consider how procurement can be used to provide more employment opportunities including review Government tender processes for unintentional bias
  • Engage a Thinker In Residence to stimulate the better coordination of Aboriginal Economic Participation activities in South Australia
  • Establish regional workshops connecting schools with businesses and service providers.
  • Support Indigenous entrepreneurs though an Indigenous Business Hub
  • Create networking opportunities for Aboriginal businesses to engage and learn from each other
  • Create an Arts Industry Cluster in the Aboriginal Industry Cluster Program
  • Monitor the number and value of Federal Government contracts awarded to Indigenous suppliers

The Don Dunstan Foundation and a number of other organisations have already begun implementing many of the recommendations.

Earlier in the year, the Foundation hosted an Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Forum which showcased a number of indigenous businesses.

“It was about bringing together government, private sector and industry representatives to explore opportunities on how resources can be pooled to have a more coordinated impact in increasing Aboriginal economic participation,” Mr Pearson says.

Red Centre Enterprises CEO Nadia Matko says indigenous history and culture play an important part in creating exciting new opportunities.

“We’re about to launch two new social enterprise cafés focussed on native foods – one at Tandanya and one in Gawler, with each site creating employment opportunities for 20 people,” she says.

The cafes will also be supported by a catering division with staff receiving hospitality training as well as training in native foods and aboriginal culture.

“There’s a lot of exciting things happening in terms of celebrating the Kaurna community and taking ‘bush’ foods from the land to the community.”

Other action already undertaken from this report includes the extension of the Governor’s Aboriginal Employment Industry Cluster Program to include South Australia’s arts and culture industry.

The Cluster is chaired by Adelaide Fringe Director and CEO Heather Croall who says it’s all about reaching out to local arts organisations to create immediate employment and training opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Arts opportunities should be highlighted in education and employment and prioritised, just as much as STEM opportunities,” she says.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed job location, discrimination in the workforce and change in the labour market are the key factors in Indigenous Australians finding work.

The report was commissioned by the Don Dunstan Foundation and researched by participants in the 2017 Governors Leadership Foundation Program.

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