‘Work to live, or live to work?’ It is an age-old question, the choice of which for may be taken away from many Australians living in remote areas with the reform of the Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP), expected to be implemented from 1 July 2015.
Under the new program called Work for the Dole, unemployed in remote areas will undertake either employment or training activities for a minimum of 25 hours a week for 52 weeks a year. This would provide a significantly stricter framework for formal employment activities than exists under the current system. Employers and training and job pathways providers find themselves under pressure to find additional or more sustained placements for the unemployed people in their communities.
Currently, there are a number of difficult elements to engage Indigenous workforces. Cultural and language differences, as well as sometimes a low level of literacy and numeracy limit a number of employment options. Additionally, in remote areas there often lacks the quantity and variety of positions to allow potential employees to engage in work of interest to them or is relevant to their unique skills set.
Until the programs are implemented, it is hard to see how greatly these new regulations will impact the existing workforce, and communities of unemployed people in an area where there are not a large number of employment opportunities. However, there is a chance that for many relying on welfare payments for their day-to-day lives, there remains little choice but to work to live.
Engage with peers from varied organisations at our upcoming Indigenous Employment Conference about how Work for the Dole and other upcoming changes may impact employment in remote Australia and beyond.