Indige­nous jobs pay off all round

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS -

BIL­LIONS of ex­tra dol­lars will be added to the Aus­tralian econ­omy if Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lander em­ploy­ment lev­els reach those of other Aus­tralians by 2031 ac­cord­ing to a new Deloitte Ac­cess Eco­nomics re­port.

The re­port, com­mis­sioned by Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Aus­tralia, finds that by 2031 the Aus­tralian econ­omy (GDP) would be more than 1.15 per cent larger in real terms than would oth­er­wise be the case – a gain of ap­prox­i­mately $24 bil­lion in 2012-13 dol­lars. It also found that the larger tax base would in­crease Govern­ment rev­enues across the coun­try by $7.2 bil­lion and in­creased af­flu­ence among indige­nous work­ers would cause a sub­stan­tial $4.7 bil­lion re­duc­tion in nec­es­sary ex­pen­di­ture.

Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Aus­tralia Co-Chair, Dr Tom Calma, said ‘‘The re­port es­ti­mates that clos­ing the ed­u­ca­tion gap would see an ad­di­tional 26,000 jobs and that rais­ing Abo­rig­i­nal and Is­lander health out­comes would see a 9 per cent in­crease or 13,000 ad­di­tional jobs.’’

The re­port in­ves­ti­gates em­ploy­ment out­comes across ur­ban, re­gional and re­mote ar­eas and in­cludes an anal­y­sis by in­dus­try and oc­cu­pa­tion and fac­tors which dis­ad­van­tage Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lander job-seek­ers in the labour mar­ket.

It finds three quar­ters of the eco­nomic benefits would ac­crue from re­gional and ur­ban Indige­nous pop­u­la­tions. NSW, with the largest Abo­rig­i­nal pop­u­la­tion, would re­ceive the great­est eco­nomic ben­e­fit with an es­ti­mated in­crease of $7.4 bil­lion although the benefits of clos­ing the em­ploy­ment gap in re­mote pop­u­la­tions such as Cape York would be dis­pro­por­tion­ally large.

‘‘This find­ing strongly re­in­forces ar­gu­ments by indige­nous lead­ers and oth­ers against a one size fits all ap­proach and for tai­lored ef­forts across all re­gions,’’ said Dr Calma.

Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Aus­tralia Co-Chair Melinda Ci­lento said achiev­ing em­ploy­ment eq­uity was not as oner­ous as many be­lieved. ‘‘For ex­am­ple the re­tail in­dus­try in the Fitzroy re­gion would need only an ad­di­tional 75 Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lander peo­ple to be em­ployed out of a to­tal re­tail work­force of 9800 to close the gap.

"The les­son here is that the aspi­ra­tion of putting tens of thou­sands of Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lander peo­ple into se­cure, sus­tain­able jobs in ur­ban, re­gional and re­mote Aus­tralia is at­tain­able and will bring enor­mous benefits to the en­tire coun­try."

Deloitte Ac­cess Eco­nomics Part­ner and re­port au­thor Dr Ric Simes said anal­y­sis high­lighted how im­prov­ing the cir­cum­stances of indige­nous Aus­tralians was not only a ma­jor so­cial chal­lenge, but also a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue for Aus­tralia be­ing best po­si­tioned to max­imise its eco­nomic for­tunes. Dr Simes said the po­ten­tial gains in na­tional wealth and govern­ment bud­gets com­ple­ment the pri­mary benefits of ad­dress­ing indige­nous dis­ad­van­tage, namely en­hanc­ing the well-be­ing and life ex­pe­ri­ences of Indige­nous Aus­tralians.

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