MERCURY CAMPAIGN - 100 Jobs in 100 Days
In an ideal world, Barbara Brennan would like to say her clients’ ethnicity has nothing to do with whether they land a job.
But for many bright eyed, bushy tailed and highly trained indigenous job seekers, the ‘‘systemic racism’’ that exists ‘‘right throughout the whole country’’ is an obstacle difficult to overcome.
As Illawarra ITeC New Careers for Aboriginal People (NCAP) program manager, Ms Brennan has heard all the typical excuses employers use to avoid hiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
She said double standards based on stereotypes were prevalent in the Illawarra.
‘‘I’ve had employers tell me they don’t want to employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because they’re unreliable, they might turn up to work drunk or hung over from the night before,’’ Ms Brennan said. ‘‘But when a non-indigenous person does it, it’s just ‘Johno’.
‘‘[They say] Johno just stay up the back there, don’t get in the way of the boss, but if someone of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent was to do it it’s like ‘Oh, we expected nothing more’.’’
In 2006, the Aboriginal employment rate for the Wollongong area was 46 per cent, compared with 66.5 per cent for non-Aboriginal residents. Aboriginal people aged between 15 and 24 years experienced an unemployment rate that was 17 per cent higher than that for non-Aboriginal young people.
NCAP clients experience difficulty landing a job for another reason. Although highly trained, they lack workplace experience, so can be overlooked.
Ms Brennan said she had been inundated with clients calling her to find out if any new jobs were available.
‘‘I’ve got my clients who are messaging me, ringing me every day [asking] are there any jobs.’’
‘‘It started to get to a point for me where it was sad to get these phone calls and these messages from these people because I was telling them the same thing all the time,’’ Ms Brennan said.
To help combat the problem, the Illawarra Mercury has teamed up with NCAP for the 100 Jobs in 100 Days campaign. The initiative, which runs until April, challenges employers to hire an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person trained through NCAP.
‘‘This innovative project is about assisting businesses and service providers through the red tape of recruitment, advertising, researching and interviewing,’’ Ms Brennan said.
‘‘If an organisation or a business wanted to look at hiring an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, I can help them through all of the incentives, I can walk them through how they could word an advertisement to make it more friendly.’’
Ms Brennan said there were many reasons employers should consider employing a trainee. ‘‘I think employers want someone who can come in and do the job.
‘‘So many young people get overlooked because they don’t have the experience or they’ve just finished school,’’ she said.
‘‘The best thing about employing a young person is you get to mould them to what your organisational and business expectations are.’’
Employers who take on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees are able to qualify for federal government incentives of $6000 for a full-time position and $4000 for a part-time position.
Employers interested in being part of the program should contact the Aboriginal services department at Illawarra ITeC on 4223 3100.