Next steps on closing the gap: delivering remote jobs

The Albanese Government is announcing a new Remote Jobs and Economic Development Program (RJED) that will help close the gap in employment outcomes by creating 3,000 jobs in remote Australia.

This $707 million investment is the first step in delivering on our commitment to replace the failed Community Development Program (CDP) with real jobs, proper wages, and decent conditions.

The new Remote Jobs and Economic Development Program, starting in the second half of this year, is about self-determination through economic and community development.

It will be implemented in partnership with First Nations people, build skills and experience, and deliver services that communities want.

The Albanese Labor Government is also announcing it will establish a National Commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People to help achieve progress under the Closing the Gap agreement.

Indigenous children are almost eleven times more likely to be in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children. The National Commissioner will focus on working with First Nations people on evidence based programs and policies to turn those figures around.

Establishing the National Commissioner is the result of extensive discussions with the peak body, SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, which has been calling for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Commissioner for many years.

An interim Commissioner will be appointed mid-year and will work with the government and First Nations expert advisers to determine the powers, roles and functions of the National Commissioner, which will be established under legislation.

The Prime Minister will today hand down the 2023 Closing the Gap Annual Report and the 2024 Implementation Plan. The report assesses progress and commits to new initiatives focussed on improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Other key initiatives include:

  • $30.2 million for Remote Training Hubs in up to seven remote locations in Central Australia.
  • $10.7 million to continue funding for the Justice Policy Partnership, working to reduce incarceration rates.
  • Community Wi-Fi services for around 20 remote communities so people can access government services, education and stay connected, with funding arrangements to be settled through commercial negotiations with NBN Co.
  • $24 million to expand the Junior Rangers program to 50 sites to boost engagement and attendance rates of First Nations students.
     

Significant progress has also been made against commitments made in the 2023 Closing the Gap Implementation Plan:

  • 183 people have enrolled in the Health Worker Traineeship Program as part of our commitment to funding 500 First Nations health workers.
  • We are improving access to safe and reliable drinking water in the remote Northern Territory communities of Yuendumu and Milingimbi.
  • We are delivering the Commonwealth’s $100 million investment for urgent repairs and maintenance to housing and essential infrastructure on Northern Territory Homelands – including Utopia, Paru and Rockhole.
  • 157 houses are on track to be delivered months earlier than anticipated, easing severe overcrowding in remote Northern Territory communities.
  • We are delivering on our landmark justice reinvestment package supporting communities to find local solutions to improve community safety and reduce incarceration rates.
  • Over 14,000 First Nations students have enrolled in Fee-Free TAFE courses.
  • Work is progressing to improve access to renal services in remote communities for people with end stage kidney disease.
  • Applications are open for organisations to expand Indigenous Rangers by up to 1,000 jobs, as part of our plan to double the number of Rangers by 2030.
  • Continuing to support the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation to employ 260 new workers in community controlled health organisations to deliver cancer treatments and other supports.

Over the next year, the Albanese Government will strengthen our relationship with the Coalition of the Peaks and work in partnership to design and implement programs that make a difference at the local level.

By backing self-determination and listening to locals and working with communities, we can make progress on Closing the Gap.

Quotes attributable to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese:
 
“The National Commissioner will be dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights, interests and wellbeing of First Nations children and young people, as well as calling on their strengths, sense of hope, and ideas for change.
 
“The Commissioner will address the unacceptable rates of out-of-home care. What it all comes down to is strengthening families and keeping children safe.
 
"It is what experts and the Coalition of the Peaks have been calling for, guided every step of the way by the evidence. We have listened.
 
“The Remote Jobs and Economic Development Program will deliver real jobs with proper wages and decent conditions, developed in partnership with Indigenous communities. These jobs will build skills and experience, and deliver services that communities want.”
 
Quotes attributable to Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney:

“The new Remote Jobs and Economic Development Program is about fixing up the mess left by the Liberals failed CDP and putting communities in the driver’s seat to create local jobs and businesses.

“People in remote communities should have access to the benefits and dignity of work – for themselves, their families and the next generation.

“Establishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Commissioner is about changing the trajectory and creating brighter futures for Indigenous children and young people.

“The status quo cannot continue and we are committed to making real change, strengthening families and getting better outcomes for Indigenous children and young people.”

Quotes attributable to the Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Indigenous Health Malarndirri McCarthy:

“Our delivery of a proper jobs program in the bush will make a positive difference in the lives of Indigenous Australians and ensure they can fulfil 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.

“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.

“Every child deserves to live a healthy and happy life, and this is why it is critical we are working hand-in-hand with SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, to ensure more kids can achieve their full potential in life.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth:

“Improving outcomes for First Nations communities, children and young people requires First Nations-led solutions and a National Commissioner will build on our important work under Safe and Supported: the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children.

“The Commissioner will improve accountability and advocate for systemic change, informed by the voices and experiences of First Nations children and young people.

 “Systemic change takes time, and elevating the voices of First Nations children through this Commissioner, will further embed the partnership elements of the Priority Reforms.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor:

“All Australians have a right to education, training and employment. It is our responsibility to ensure that accessibility and quality is not limited to those living in larger, more developed parts of the country.

“This is an on-the-ground example of our Government’s commitment to ensure no one is left behind and no one is held back.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland:

“In 2024, access to reliable broadband is a critical part of everyday life. It’s how we stay connected with loved ones, run businesses, and engage with essential services.
 
“That’s why reliable connectivity is essential to closing the gap.
 
“These free Wi-Fi services in remote First Nations communities will support communities to get online and experience the transformational benefits of broadband.”