FORTESCUE Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest has been appointed to head an Australian Government review of Indigenous training and employment programs.
Announced this week by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the review will provide recommendations to ensure Indigenous training and employment services are targeted and administered to connect unemployed Indigenous people with real and sustainable jobs.
It will consider how training and employment services can better link to the commitment of employers to provide sustainable employment opportunities for Indigenous people and end the cycle of Indigenous disadvantage.
“Too often, employment and training programmes provide ‘training for training’s sake’ without the practical skills that people need to fill the jobs that exist,” Prime Minister Abbott said.
“It is important that attention be given not just to skills training, but practical life education and ongoing mentoring to make sure jobs are lasting and careers are developed for Indigenous Australians.
“Australians yearn to see practical and genuine improvement in the lives of Aboriginal people. There is so much goodwill. The challenge, though, is to convert good intentions into practical change for the better.”
As chair of the Review of Indigenous Training and Employment, Mr Forrest will be provided with policy and administrative support from the Department of the Prime Minister and will work closely with the Government’s Indigenous Advisory Council. The group will report to Mr Abbott by April 7, 2014.
‘Twiggy’ Forrest’s appointment is a remarkable endorsement for his long-held commitment to improving employment opportunities for Indigenous people, both through his personal charity work and company initiatives.
Earlier this year, Fortescue Metals reached its target of providing $1 billion worth of contracts on its many mining projects to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned firms.
Speaking to News Corporation after his appointment, Mr Forrest said ‘continue to suffer the racism of low expectations’.
“I have seen in my own company Aboriginal people who have turned their lives around when given the guarantee of a job at the completion of training,” he told News Corp websites.
“I am looking forward to hearing from as many people as possible throughout this review, to ensure all successful models of training that lead to employment are fully considered.”