The federal government will inject $707 million to create 3000 jobs over three years for Indigenous people in remote areas as Labor tries to address faltering Closing The Gap targets.
The program will be driven by Indigenous people, with remote communities themselves deciding what jobs are needed.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney says the program will be “life-changing” and “it’s about putting communities in the driver’s seat”.
It replaces the previous Coalition-created Community Development Program, which was widely criticised by Indigenous elders.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said while the new jobs target was an “admirable aim”, he pointed out previous failures.
“If almost three-quarters of a billion dollars is to be spent on the program, there must be guarantees that the 3000 jobs figure is achieved, rather than just being a wishful target,” he said.
While employment for Indigenous Australians is improving, youth employment is not on track to meet targets, and it’s just one part of a wider failure on many Closing The Gap targets.
The latest Closing The Gap report, released today, shows just four of the 19 targets are on track to be met.
While most are improving, four are going backwards.
The worst performers are childhood development, rates of out-of-home care, the number of adults in prison, and suicide rates.
Targets on track are reducing the number of young people in detention, preschool enrolments, adult employment, and land rights.
The government also announced it will appoint a National Commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People to address dire outcomes for Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, health, and education.
“The next generation is crucial,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.
It comes as Labor tries to regain its stride on Indigenous policy after the failed Voice referendum last year.