Mining sector’s plea to boost Indigenous employment

Australia’s mining sector is calling on the government to change anti-discrimination laws so they can advertise jobs as Indigenous only.

The Australian Mines and Metals Association said the appeal is being driven by a concerning increase in the Indigenous employee gap.

In a submission to the Australian Government’s review of Indigenous training and employment, headed by Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest, AMMA said that to improve Indigenous participation anti-discrimination laws need to be altered.

"Andrew Forrest's review could also address the existing ambiguity around anti-discrimination laws that can prevent employers from targeting job advertisements to Indigenous people,” AMMA executive director Scott Barklamb said

Currently Indigenous employees make up 3.1 per cent of the total resources sector; more than double the all industries average of 1.4 per cent.

But Barklamb said there is room for improvement.

"As we manage the industry's transition to greater levels of production and prepare for new projects, the resource industry will continue to play a lead role in delivering jobs and economic growth," he said.

“We must keep the momentum going.”

The resources employer group is launching a new training initiative aimed at Indigenous jobseekers in the hope practical, job-generating projects will help address the issues raised by Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Alan Tudge that Indigenous jobs growth is not keeping up with population increase.

"Under our resource industry-government collaboration project AMMA Skills Connect, we have this week begun inducting a group of Indigenous jobseekers on a fully-funded Certificate II in Hospitality with the view to work at one of Western Australia's mine accommodation villages,” he explained.

"This follows another program where unemployed Indigenous people were trained and employed in mine site security. These are real-life examples of what can be achieved when industry and government collaborate to support Indigenous employment."

AMMA is also suggesting better equipping Indigenous businesses to tender for resource industry work and preparing more Indigenous people to take up FIFO/DIDO roles.

"An opportunity exists to research, promote and expand on successful resource industry initiatives to further Indigenous employment prospects throughout our nation," Barklamb said.

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