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Thursday, 16 October 2003
Page: 21645

Mr TOLLNER (2:23 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. Would the minister outline to the House the government's efforts to build stronger Indigenous communities by acknowledging corporate leadership in employing more Indigenous Australians?

Mr ANDREWS (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —I thank the honourable member for Solomon for his question and for his ongoing interest in the employment of Indigenous Australians, particularly those in his electorate in the Northern Territory. In 1999 the Australian government introduced the Indigenous Employment Policy and, since then, has expended more than $200 million on it. The Corporate Leaders for Indigenous Employment program is part of the policy, which also includes the Job Network and the Indigenous Small Business Fund.

I am pleased to inform the House that, from 1999 until August this year, the partnership between the Australian government and business has seen more than 75,000 Indigenous job seekers helped by the Job Network and nearly 40,000 being placed in jobs. In addition, more than 30,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been assisted under the Indigenous Employment Policy. Last night the member for Solomon, along with a number of other members of this House, attended the Corporate Leaders for Indigenous Employment awards in the Great Hall here at Parliament House. This was an opportunity to recognise and congratulate the efforts of 70 Australian companies that have joined this partnership with the Australian government, with commitments to some 4,000 jobs for Indigenous Australians. This is something which I believe we can all be proud of.

To give the House an indication of the sort of work which is being done under this program, the winner of the main award last night was Mr Barry Orr, who received the prestigious Neville Bonner Memorial Award for what is really inspirational work with the Indigenous community stores in remote areas of the Northern Territory. Last year Barry Orr, together with his wife, Colleen, and his family, moved from Mildura in country Victoria, where he was employed by Woolworths, to the Wugularr community outside Katherine to manage a Fred Hollows Foundation and Woolworths project to make nutritional food and fresh produce available to remote communities.

This project has had two quite significant outcomes for the people of the community: firstly, it has led to full-time employment for people in the community through the management and conduct of the store, and, secondly, through the introduction of more fresh produce on a regular basis, it has also had a significant health outcome for the Indigenous people living in the community. I take this opportunity to congratulate all those who were involved in the Indigenous employment program, particularly the 70 corporations around Australia and their leaders, and the winners of each of the awards last night.