Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on October 30, 2008

AM – Thursday, 30 October , 2008 08:12:00

Reporter: Sara Everingham

PETER CAVE: Corporate Australia is pledging to provide almost 5000 jobs for Indigenous people as part of the most ambitious Indigenous employment scheme to date.

The Australian Employment Covenant is being launched in Sydney today by its founder mining magnate Andrew Forrest and the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The plan is to get 50,000 Indigenous people into meaningful work in the private sector in the next two years.

Sara Everingham reports.

SARA EVERINGHAM: It’s an ambitious plan but the Indigenous leader Warren Mundine is confident the Australian Employment Covenant will succeed. He’s helping drive the program founded by Fortescue Metals chief executive Andrew Forrest in August.

Warren Mundine says already almost 5000 jobs are being offered by the corporate sector.

WARREN MUNDINE: Corporate Australia is right onside. Now we need to drill down into the rest of the industries across Australia such as small business and so on.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The plan is to get companies to agree to employ a certain number of Indigenous people with the Government to provide training. The workers in the scheme will be matched up with buddies or mentors to help them stay in the jobs.

Warren Mundine says most of the positions will be in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia where most Indigenous people live and he says the positions will cover many fields.

WARREN MUNDINE: Retail, hospitality and tourism, the mining industry, of course. They have a very successful record already, but we’ll break into IT and the law and so on.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But the scheme has its critics. Some argue it’s overly ambitious and others wonder whether Indigenous people will be willing to leave their country to work away from home.

WARREN MUNDINE: You have to overly ambitious. Look at the statistics in regard to Aboriginal employment in Australia. They’re dreadful.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The Indigenous leader Noel Pearson is a strong supporter of the scheme but he says the Government needs to go further in its support.

He wants legislation exempting school leavers from the 90-minute rule that sees people only obliged to take jobs within a 90-minute commuting time, and Warren Mundine agrees.

WARREN MUNDINE: Having to travel and having to move from your community does not isolate you from your country. It does not isolate you from your culture.

PETER CAVE: The Indigenous leader, Warren Mundine ending Sara Everingham’s report.



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