Increasing Indigenous employment rates

Increasing Indigenous employment rates Report

Issues Paper

  • Author(s): Matthew Gray, Boyd Hunter, Shaun Lohoar
  • Published: 2012
  • Publisher: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & Australian Institute of Family Studies
  • Volume: Closing the Gap Clearinghouse

Abstract: The low employment rate of Indigenous Australians contributes to economic deprivation and a range of social problems. Increasing employment rates is key to reducing Indigenous disadvantage. Employment is central to the Closing the Gap targets that directly refer to engagement with the mainstream economy. Paid employment can provide the economic independence and autonomy that allow Indigenous people to explore their own aspirations. This paper provides an overview of the research-based evidence on why Indigenous Australians have much lower employment rates than non-Indigenous Australians, and which policies and programs have been most successful in increasing Indigenous employment. Relevant research has been identified through searching a number of databases and via the authors’ knowledge of research in this area. The research drawn upon in developing this paper has been published in a variety of outlets including: peer-reviewed journal articles; books; university-based discussion paper series; and significant government research and evaluation reports. All research referred to in this paper is in the public domain. There are several other reviews of research on the determinants of Indigenous employment and the effectiveness of labour market programs for Indigenous Australians, which readers may also find useful. The focus of this paper is on articles published from 1993 onwards. This year is chosen because it is the first year in which research based on the 1991 Census was published. Research published before 1993 was generally based on data from the 1986 Census (or earlier censuses). Given the major changes to the Australian labour market since that time, much of the earlier research is of limited relevance to informing contemporary Indigenous employment policies and programs. The remainder of the paper is structured as follows. The second section provides an overview of trends in Indigenous employment since 1994. The third section outlines the history of Indigenous employment policies in Australia and describes the current government policies and programs that are most relevant to Indigenous employment. The fourth section identifies the factors that the existing research has found to be important determinants of whether Indigenous Australians are in paid employment. The fifth section provides evaluations of the effectiveness of government policies and programs aimed at increasing employment rates of Indigenous Australians. The sixth section is a summary of several programs run by employers that have resulted in the employment of Indigenous Australians. The final section provides a summary of the evidence on the policies and programs that are most effective in increasing Indigenous employment rates.

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Suggested Citation
Matthew Gray, Boyd Hunter, Shaun Lohoar, 2012, Increasing Indigenous employment rates, Volume:Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, Report, viewed 08 August 2022,

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