Indigenous jobs pay off all round
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.