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Forrest Review Response


The Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES) ltd and Spearhead Careers Pty Ltd supports Forrest position towards seismic change, change thought that is focused towards creating ways by which people can change but not telling people to change.

The language and critique within this report is from a large employer perspective rather than the perspective we know as communities, individuals, Large and SME employers, service providers and government officials.

What is concerning is the omission of initiatives that have created systematic and sustainable changes, programs like the Aboriginal School Based Traineeship program started by the AES in 2002. This program has been a significant game changer – increases school retention, increased academic results, increased knowledge on careers, greater succession outcomes post school and creating a career based mindset that has seen graduates now Managers in blue chip companies.

This review indicates that majority of things including people are broken, this is not the case and to the eyes of the reader this could be that perception.

The initial brief was to review and reform Indigenous employment and training, the intent has not been delivered. We have a broad, ambitious and macro welfare review with little revolutionary options/perspectives, including expanding on what has worked.

Recommendations we support:

Upon our review we support the following recommendations;
4, 6, 7, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20 (partial on SBT), 21, 25, 26, 27

Policy items for consideration:

We have taken this opportunity to provide further policy items for consideration that we firmly believe would add benefit to the Indigenous Advancement Strategy and the Welfare Reform agenda currently underway, they include;

  • We would like to establish a universal Contribution Plan rather than Mutual obligation plan ‐ with the notion of “What can you do for your community rather than what the community can do for you” ‐ With one to one individual coaching to build life skills, social skills, occupational skills and business skills
  • Building a stronger skilled Australian workforce based economy ‐ through an enhanced Certificate III to Diploma Apprenticeships and Traineeships scheme – this provides and achieves Careers from the beginning rather than more pre-employment training;
  • Fund programs that have intended or demonstrated focuses towards an Employer driven model that is focused towards Careers;
  • Maintain the voluntary engagement piece of unemployed people engaging in meaningful and sustainable activities (currently via the IEP now the IAS);
  • Democratic governance model through collaborative partnerships with government officials to service providers – Government officials working with rather than telling service providers how to implement their service;
  • Establish a visible account (Website) of State and Federal Government funded programs, providing what the intent of funding and showing whether they are meeting targets, six monthly or annual releases etc;
  • Creation and establishment of a commercially managed and operated “Careers Advisor” program within all Government run schools for students from Years 7 to 12; (We would have like to see policy formation that is aligned to expansion of the existing NSW Government “Opportunity Hub” program);
  • We would like to see the Creation of a mid Year 12 Degree University linkage to focus on undergraduate opportunities with financial support led by Employers;
  • We support the need to engage with prisoners prior to post release to address lifestyles skills, social skills, occupational skills, trial social bonds within this area; and The need to support children in a holistic approach is a must, 0‐7 years are the most important years for any person and we need to stay focused towards this opportunity.


Private Sector Large and small, Governments, Aboriginal people and communities, community organisations/sector, Government officials and service providers are well positioned to create history by addressing the on-going omission of accountability through transparent measurement that is visible to the public. Individual ownership and accountability will create the seismic change we require.

The opportunity to create new mindsets and enable visibility that poverty is not an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural attribute we will realise our role as citizens in Australia.


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