Issue 7
Monday, 03 September 2018
Charles Darwin University
Masters research student Peter Strachan
Masters research student Peter Strachan

Stats show rise and fall in Indigenous employment

By Patrick Nelson

A CDU analysis of data gathered 30 years apart shows Indigenous employment has risen in Alice Springs but fallen elsewhere in the Red Centre.

Peter Strachan has been comparing data gathered at the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census in 1986 with that taken in 2016 as part of a Masters research project into Indigenous employment in Central Australia.

“The status of Aboriginal employment in Alice was about 31 per cent in 1986 and almost 36 per cent in 2016,” Mr Strachan said.

“The trends in remote communities throughout the Sandover, Peterman, Tanami and Apatula regions show unemployment has risen when comparing the two data sets.”

Mr Strachan said he had identified population, the economy, government policy, technological change and education as key factors influencing labour market change.

“Culture, and family from whom Indigenous people draw encouragement and support, also are critical factors,” he said.

“Indigenous people tend to work in Aboriginal organisations, delivering services to their own mob, in close proximity to where they live.

“Community, government and community service organisations such as Night Patrol were key employment areas.”

Mr Strachan said that while there had been a rise in Indigenous employment across the three levels of the public sector, non-government organisations far too often recruited non-Aboriginal people with high-level formal qualifications in preference to quality local Aboriginal people with substantial knowledge, skills and networks but fewer formal qualifications.

In terms of attracting and retaining employees in remote areas, Mr Strachan said a change to the zone tax rebate might prove beneficial.

“A colleague suggested adjusting the rebate for the most remote locations progressively for Zone D, C and B. It does not contravene Section 92 of the Constitution, is easy to implement, has minimal budget cost and boosts economic development,” he said.

Mr Strachan said he had been interested in Indigenous employment, education and training since 1983, and had been employed in the field since his arrival in Alice Springs in 1992.