In July 2020, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed by the National Federation Reform Council and the Coalition of Peaks. This new commitment from Australian federal and state governments to ‘closing the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians now includes the formal and genuine partnership with around 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations and members.
A review of the 2008-2018 Closing the Gap strategy found that Australia had only achieved two of the seven targets to improve life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
What is Closing the Gap?
Closing the Gap is Australia’s commitment to achieving equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have poorer health and wellbeing, education, employment, justice, safety, housing, and life expectancy than non-Indigenous Australians.
Now, 17 outcomes are the agreed measures of real social change in achieving socio-economic equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enjoy long and healthy lives
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are born healthy and strong
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are engaged in high quality, culturally appropriate early childhood education in their early years
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children thrive in their early years
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students achieve their full learning potential
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students reach their full potential through further education pathways
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth are engaged in employment or education
- Strong economic participation and development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people secure appropriate, affordable housing that is aligned with their priorities and need
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not overrepresented in the criminal justice system
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are not overrepresented in the criminal justice system
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are not overrepresented in the child protection system
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and households are safe
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enjoy high levels of social and emotional wellbeing
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people maintain a distinctive cultural, spiritual, physical and economic relationship with their land and waters
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and languages are strong, supported and flourishing
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to information and services enabling participation in informed decision-making regarding their own lives.
Jobfind’s Indigenous Employment Program
As an employment services provider, Jobfind’s specialist Indigenous Program is designed to address the reasons First Nations Australians have much lower employment rates than other Australians—lower levels of education, training and skills; poorer health; poorer access to local labour market opportunities; discrimination; and lower levels of job retention.
Manuela Toditsch is Jobfind’s Indigenous Program Manager and says: “We work in genuine partnership with our First Nations participants and communities to engage individuals and help them achieve their training and employment goals. We include the families, too, because we understand that people have important family and cultural commitments.”
Manuela works closely with job seekers and their employment consultant who meets with them one-on-one to tailor a Job Plan to their individual circumstances and goals.
Below are just a few of the ways Jobfind’s Indigenous Program supports our First Nations job seekers.
Increasing skill levels to fill local vacancies
Jobfind helps Indigenous job seekers increase their skill levels and competitiveness to secure a job by accessing courses in high-demand industries in their local area.
We work with local community organisations and vocational education providers to help participants complete accredited and non-accredited training. Many Indigenous learners are eligible for government funding to support their continued study.
Pre-employment support to become work–ready
Through one-on-one mentoring and group workshops, Jobfind supports First Nations participants to develop their confidence, explore their strengths, and discover their transferrable skills and aptitudes. They can meet employers and learn about industries and career opportunities.
Health and wellbeing support
The Jobfind team addresses destabilising factors such as unstable housing, finances, and mental health by helping Indigenous participants access support from its network of Indigenous community service providers and its own allied health service, Healthfind.
Manuela says the wrap-around support from other providers along with Jobfind helps Indigenous job seekers to stay on track with their goals and recover quicker when obstacles arise.
Creating more opportunities for youth
Indigenous youth unemployment rates are concerning and a priority area for government. Jobfind’s Youth Employment Consortium includes over a dozen organisations, including apprenticeship providers, who are helping young people start on a career pathway.
“Our partners can help our Indigenous job seekers with real apprenticeships that can lead to ongoing employment, regular income, and a recognised qualification,” explains Manuela. “It’s exciting to see more Indigenous girls and women raise their hands for these opportunities.”
Supporting employers to provide culturally safe workplaces
Our Indigenous service extends to employers—we offer them advice and ongoing support to create culturally-safe workplaces that respect Indigenous workers and their cultural observances.
“Many employers are keen to increase their Indigenous workforce and are grateful that we can connect them with job seekers and help them embrace diversity,” explains Manuela.
Advocacy for Indigenous job seekers
Standard recruitment strategies can sometimes unfairly screen out Indigenous candidates, denying them the opportunity to win jobs.
“Our employers trust us to send them high quality candidates; often an Indigenous job seeker who may not tick all the boxes on paper is the right fit in real life and we can personally represent them to a hiring employer,” says Manuela.
Job retention support
Jobfind has an unwavering commitment to support every job seeker as they transition into their new role; it is the top-ranking jobactive employment service nationally for helping job seekers achieve sustained employment.
“We’ve helped people with practical things including clothing and shoes for work as well as assistance for travel to work. This assistance is ongoing for six months from the time they commence work – to help them stay engaged and be supported with work as well as external challenges,” says Manuela.
Mavis secured a job three works after commencing with Jobfind’s employment service. But she wanted more than a job, she wanted a fulfilling career. With support from the Indigenous Program, Mavis has moved into a full–time job in administration that she loves. Read Mavis’ story.
‘Close the Gap’ recognises and emphasises that closing the gap in early childhood development, education, housing, health and employment is key to achieving equal life outcomes for Indigenous Australians.
Jobfind’s Indigenous Program seeks to address vocational and non-vocational barriers that First Nations people face in finding and keeping a job. We seek to work locally in genuine partnership with First Nations job seekers, their families, communities, other providers and employers to achieve better employment outcomes for First Nations job seekers.