Jobs boost for remote communities ahead of Closing the Gap update

A $707m jobs program for remote Australia will be launched today, the first major Closing the Gap policy since last year’s failed Voice to Parliament referendum.

What we know:

  • The federal government will deliver the Closing the Gap update in parliament today, with progress slow or non-existent across many of the targets for 2031 (The Conversation);
  • The government has announced a $707m program it says will deliver 3000 jobs and better living conditions over three years for Indigenous Australians living in remote areas (AFR);
  • Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney said the jobs program will be grounded in “self-determination”, and designed and implemented in partnership with the coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations;
  • Burney said that “for too long people in remote communities have missed out on economic opportunities and have been stuck in cycles of poverty”;
  • A Productivity Commission report last week found the Closing the Gap targets will not be met unless there are wholesale changes from governments and a greater willingness to work with local communities;
  • The Closing the Gap 2031 targets include increasing the proportion of Indigenous people aged 15 to 24 in employment, education and training to 67% and of those aged 25 to 64 to 62%, neither of which are on track to be met;
  • According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 40% of Indigenous Australians aged 15 to 64 were not in the labour force as of 2021;
  • The new jobs program will replace the Abbott-era Community Development Program, which Burney labelled a failure that has left a “mess” (news.com.au);
  • The new program will cover the same areas, spanning central and western Queensland across to most of WA, apart from major cities.
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