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Federal government launches program to create 3,000 jobs in remote communities

Giovanni Torre -

The federal government has announced a new Remote Jobs program that aims to create 3,000 jobs in remote Australia over the next three years.

In a statement released Monday night, the government described the $707 million investment as "the first step" in delivering on their "commitment to replace the failed Community Development Program (CDP) with real jobs, proper wages, and decent conditions".

Under the program, local and community organisations will employ people across all 'CDP regions' in Australia.

The new program is designed to help build the remote workforce and reduce the reliance on the fly-in-fly-out workforce.

The new program is designed to let communities decide what jobs are created – such as community services and the care sector, hospitality and tourism, horticulture and retail.

The government pledged to establish a $185 million Community Jobs and Business Fund for local and community-owned businesses to apply for money for equipment and capital.

The new program will start in the second half of 2024, and the government has vowed to implement it "in partnership with First Nations people" to "build skills and experience, and deliver services that communities want".

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said that the "number one issue" raised with her by residents of remote communities is "fixing up the mess left by the Liberals' failed CDP".

"For too long, people in remote communities have missed out on economic opportunities and have been stuck in cycles of poverty," she said.

"People in remote communities should have access to the benefits and dignity of work – for themselves, their families and the next generation. This is about putting communities in the driver's seat to create local jobs and businesses.

"Rates of unemployment in remote communities are unacceptable and this is the first step in turning that around."

The government said the Liberals' CDP "failed individuals and failed communities" and "is not closing the gap on employment".

Target 7 under Closing The Gap - to increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth (15-24 years) who are in employment, education or training to 67 per cent by 2031 - is not on track

Closing the Gap Target 8 - to increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25-64 who are employed to 62 per cent by 2031 - is not on track in the Northern Territory, where a high proportion of Indigenous people live in remote communities and are unemployed.

The federal government said the new remote jobs program will involve "remote communities deciding what will make the biggest difference locally, not a one-size-fits-all program that takes the same approach across the country".

The new program will include superannuation and long service leave.

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Indigenous Health Malarndirri McCarthy said the practical delivery of "a proper jobs program" in the bush will make a positive difference in the lives of Indigenous people and "ensure they can fulfill their full potential regardless of where they live".

"As a former participant of a remote jobs program myself, I know all too well the importance that meaningful employment has on economic empowerment, health, happiness, and general wellbeing," she said.

"Building on our significant delivery of better health, housing, education and employment services will help build stronger communities for all Australians and ensure more Indigenous Australians can live longer, healthier and happier lives."

The federal government said it will work in partnership with Indigenous organisations, including the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, over the coming months to design and implement the new jobs program.

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