4.2 Issue-specific reform in Shepparton
Further south, a region with visionary leaders
was crafting its own reform agenda, with jobs the
cornerstone to Indigenous development.
In Goulburn Murray in 2008, Yorta Yorta leader
Paul Briggs knew that ‘real jobs’ were required for
Indigenous people to take their rightful place in the
regional economy and society. A community survey
carried out by the Kaiela Institute confirmed that the
community agreed. Statistics showed an 80% rate of
Indigenous unemployment, despite the availability
of local jobs and the presence of 30 Indigenous
employment organisations in Shepparton.
Paul Briggs engaged Jawun to explore its potential
role as a cross-sector ‘broker’ to leverage its
connections and trust with both corporate and
Indigenous organisations. It secured $230,000 in
government funding and contracted former BCG
secondee Alan Tudge, now a member of the House
of Representatives and a longstanding champion
of Jawun, to design an employment broker pilot
specifically for Shepparton.
Implemented by a series of long-term, highly
qualified secondees, including several from
KPMG, the broker worked with employers such
as Wesfarmers, Australia Post, ANZ and the
Australian Taxation Office. Wesfarmers, the largest
private employer in the country, brought a level of
commitment and support that was instrumental to
the pilot’s success. The broker brought together
key local Indigenous organisations focused on
work readiness, training and retention: the Kaiela
Institute, Ganbina, the Academy of Sport, Health and
Education, and Rumbalara Football Netball Club.
From mid-2010 to the end of 2011, 53 Indigenous job
placements were made in Goulburn Murray through
the pilot employment broker, with an 86% retention
rate (six times the national average). The first cohort
placed 44 Indigenous people in Wesfarmers retailers
such as Kmart, sparking new confidence in young
people and their employment prospects. Former
Academy of Sport, Health and Education manager
Phil Guthrie said:
The pilot changed the culture, making it normal
for young Aboriginal kids to have a job not in a
Koori organisation or youth work.
In March 2013, the employment broker became
the Shepparton Employment Partnership, a
community-owned venture supported by funding
from Wesfarmers and the Victorian Government.
Woolworths came on board and Jawun secondees
supported it throughout. Over the next three years,
a target of 100 new Indigenous job placements
Today, Indigenous job creation in the region is aligned
with the Empowered Communities reform agenda
and its prioritisation of economic development in
Goulburn Murray. The new generation employment
initiative is facilitated by Empowered Communities
backbone organisation the Kaiela Institute and
implemented by Rumbalara Football Netball Club.
Lessons from employment initiatives since 2010 are
being drawn on and shared.
Under Empowered Communities, funding has been
achieved for 75 new Indigenous job placements
in Shepparton by the end of 2018. Additionally, a
target has been set for 40 local employers to have
an Indigenous employment level of at least 2% in
their workforce. Seven local employers signed this
employment accord in late 2016, with others set
Paul Briggs is proud of the momentum achieved:
We’ve worked hard for over a decade to build
the trust and relationships to be able to place
young Aboriginal people in jobs in local
businesses, knowing this is what’s needed for
them to build a life based on pride and choice. It’s
what is needed to break cycles of unemployment
and welfare dependency.
It’s taken a while to get others to see the value.
We’ve had to deal with the social stereotypes
and fears people have. Initially, businesses were
nervous to align themselves with the Aboriginal
community—I’d say it’s taken 15 years to get the
level of engagement we have today.
Jawun has been a critical facilitator for the
Indigenous-led Goulburn Murray agenda –
engaging corporate relationships and Indigenous
leadership. The Jawun presence offers security
and a sense of trust for political leadership and
Corporate secondees bring a high-level skill
set and workplace culture, and are committed
to transferring skills. This has intersected with
government and community resources to bring
greater success to the Goulburn Murray. For us
the Jawun partnership is a critical ingredient in
delivering outcomes, and shifting embedded
practices and behaviours.
Now, with local businesses getting onside, young
Indigenous jobseekers are joining the workforce
in mainstream organisations. We’re seeing a
change now. We’ve successfully placed hundreds
of young people into jobs locally.
4. ENABLING INDIGENOUS-LED REFORM 51