Workforce sits on demographic faultline

By Angela Dorizas

Councils must recruit, retain and develop a greater number of Indigenous employees to alleviate future workforce demands, a former local government minister has said.
Chair of the Australian Centre of Excellence of Local Government (ACELG) and former senator, Margaret Renynolds, last night released a green paper on Indigenous employment within the sector.

Launched at the ACELG National Roundtable on Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities in Canberra, the discussion paper argues the case for local government to grow and diversify its workforce.

Ms Reynolds said local government was currently operating on a “demographic faultline”.

“Almost one third of the local government sector is aged over 50,” Ms Reynolds told Government News.

“As the economy recovers, local government will once again be looking for more and more talent.

“Employing more Indigenous Australians makes good business sense.”

A key objective of the discussion paper is to advocate and promote the employment of Indigenous people at a rate that reflects local Indigenous populations.

Ms Reynolds said this was particularly important for rural and remote councils.

“There are so many isolated, rural and remote councils where workforce issues are even more serious than in the capital cities and large towns,” she said.

“For Indigenous people living in more remote, regional areas there are fewer employment options.

“We need to attract, retain and develop the capacity of Indigenous staff so that local government is seen as an employer of choice and a career pathway.”

Ms Reynolds said Indigenous Australians had a lot to offer local government, including great knowledge of the local community and its needs.

“They are very close to their communities and they do have a wonderful range of perspectives and knowledge about their local community,” she said.

“We need to incorporate that in both the policy and the governance of the third sphere of government.”

Ms Reynolds said better partnerships and resource sharing could help local government develop effective strategies for increasing Indigenous employment opportunities.

“We’ve all got to do more about utilising the resources and the skills we have through better partnerships,” she said.

The discussion paper was prepared following consultation with a number of Indigenous leaders. It is to be distributed to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders.

The ACELG has invited local, state and federal government, along with the community, to make submissions to the green paper before September 30.

Download the report: The Local Government Indigenous Employment Green Paper

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