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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

was achieved.

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

to follow.

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 partners.

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.