Plan for 500 extra indigenous jobs in city

WORK has begun on an ambitious strategy to slash Toowoomba's indigenous unemployment rate.

Challenge Employment and Training has released an indigenous employment strategy which aims to place an extra 500 indigenous people in jobs in Toowoomba in the next four years.

Toowoomba's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community currently has an unemployment rate of 18.5% - more than three times that of the general population.

About 40 local training and education providers are on board with the plan.

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Challenge's community development coordinator John O'Dempsey, who helped develop the strategy, said that getting both the indigenous and non-indigenous on side would be key to achieving the target.

"We figure we've got to get the indigenous community itself on side," he said.

"And we're taking a multi-pronged approach dealing with all of the barriers that create a situation on such a high level - working on everyone singing on the same song sheet, even when they're competitors.

"What we've been doing over the last two months is approaching every organisation that we think will have an interest.

"We've had overwhelmingly positive responses from everyone we've spoken to."

Mr O'Dempsey said achieving the 500 jobs would push the rate down to 11%, with the 18.5% figure several points above the national average.

"We're looking for jobs in Toowoomba and the Surat Basin.

"It means about 500 extra indigenous people in Toowoomba jobs and staying in jobs over the four years - we have to have job retention as well," Mr O'Dempsey said.


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