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Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Page: 4273

Ms PARKE (9:57 AM) —I would like to touch briefly on the government’s efforts to support employment and to address unemployment in my electorate of Fremantle, which includes a part of the south-west metropolitan area with higher than average unemployment. This region, the south-west Perth priority area, includes some 350,000 residents and 26,000 businesses. The area’s resident population increased 23 per cent between 2003 and 2008, making it one of the fastest-growing outer metropolitan regions in Australia. The government’s effort to strengthen employment in this area has occurred against the background of the global financial crisis and began with a jobs forum that took place in Cockburn in April last year, which the Prime Minister attended with the Minister for Employment Participation, at a time when the effects on jobs of the crisis were being keenly felt. Indeed, between September 2008 and September 2009 the region registered a 72.3 per cent increase in people receiving Centrelink unemployment benefits and the unemployment rate remained half a per cent higher than the national average.

As part of its response, the government appointed a local employment coordinator to the south-west Perth priority employment area. It is one of seven such priorities zones identified at that time. There are now 20 local employment coordinators across Australia whose work is focused on maximising work opportunities for local people. That means taking steps to match jobseekers with jobs, including through the provision of relevant education and training to create skilled locals to match skill shortages.

John McIlhone was appointed as local employment coordinator for south-west Perth and he has worked hard over the last 12 months with employers, industry, job service providers and local government, in and through the Keep Australia Working advisory committee framework. I met with Mr McIlhone recently to discuss the progress that has been made both in the short term and in planning for the longer term. I commend him for his work. I particularly commend the success of efforts in the area of Indigenous training and work placement, including the job and training placement of 12 young Indigenous Australians through the cooperation of the HALO Leadership Development Agency, Challenger TAFE, the Housing Industry Association of Western Australia and of course the local employment coordinator.

Last month I attended a Jobs Expo in Rockingham as part of the Keep Australia Working initiative, in company with the member for Brand and the parliamentary secretary for employment. The expo involved more than 60 businesses and organisations and resulted in matching more than 500 jobs to jobseekers. This kind of effort, which builds on other successful programs like the increased employer incentives under the government’s Apprentice Kickstart program, is making a significant difference to employment in the Fremantle electorate.

This government was elected against a campaign of fearmongering that said our return to workplace fairness would cause unemployment to rise dramatically. That was before we had any idea of the financial turmoil that lay ahead. This government promised to maintain employment and to return to all Australians the hard-won workplace conditions that unions and the Labor movement fought 100 years to achieve. In the Fremantle electorate and across Australia, we continue to deliver on that promise.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr S Sidebottom)—Sadly, in accordance with standing order 193 the time for constituency statements has concluded.