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Thursday, 19 June 2003
Page: 17057

Mr TOLLNER (3:14 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Employment Services. Would the minister update the House on improvements to employment services, particularly in remote locations?

The SPEAKER —The member for Charlton is warned!

Mr BROUGH (Minister for Employment Services) —I thank the member for Solomon for his question. As everyone in this House would know, the government has been working on implementing ESC3, the contract that delivers employment services around Australia from more than 2,500 sites and comes into force on Tuesday, 1 July. As part of the original contract the government reserved the right to be able to provide fee for service into remote areas of Australia where the main active participation model may not best suit the needs of the communities. To that end, I am pleased to inform the House that we have now covered those areas and we are announcing the successful contractors. There are three areas covered—the Top End of the Northern Territory, the West Kimberley in Western Australia and the Ceduna region in South Australia—by five separate providers. In the Top End the Industry, Training and Employment Council, Darwin Skills Development Scheme and Jobfind Centres Australia will be delivering very innovative products to their unemployed constituents. A community account will operate in the Top End, which will allow us to develop and implement local employment and volunteering plans to meet the needs of those markets.

In the West Kimberley, Workplace Employment Services, outside the Broome township, and Jobfutures in the township of Broome will be operating the active participation model. In the Ceduna region services will be enhanced with the provision for a greater focus on promoting Indigenous participation and retention in education. It will be encouraging Indigenous students to go back to school, as we know that has a great impact on their employability. In Ceduna the use of a job seeker account to initiate local training and develop options for job seekers will also be an important innovation.

In addition, as part of a Howard government the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations will consider proposals for the funding of specific outcome based strategies on a project basis. That will build capacity within these communities to provide opportunities for people both to work and to volunteer. This builds on the ESC3 initiatives that this government has implemented. It is a far cry from the days when we had some 350 CES offices with a very poor level of service. Today we are providing a tailored service to Australia's unemployed, no matter where they live.