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Government Introduces Plan to Boost Employment Opportunities for Indigenous Queenslanders

A piece included in yesterday’s Courier Mail detailed the government’s plan to boost employment opportunities for indigenous Queenslanders. The government has pledged to employ 2800 indigenous people in the state’s public sector by 2014. The full story can be found here:

These four youngsters are at the vanguard of an ambitious program aimed at boosting employment opportunities for indigenous Queenslanders.

They are among a group of five trainees taken on by the Department of Education and Training as part of the State Government's Project 2800, an affirmative action program linked to the national Australian Employment Covenant which aims to secure 50,000 sustainable jobs for Aboriginal Australians.

Premier Anna Bligh signed Queensland up to the covenant in February, pledging to employ an extra 2800 indigenous people in the state's public sector by 2014.

The pledge has given heart to DET assistant director-general Ian Mackie, who is behind the department's Learn Earn Legend initiative, which seeks to ensure every indigenous Year 12 education and training.

"This has been an often overlooked group of students who are now demonstrating they're more than ready for the challenge of entering the workforce when they finish school, or to continue upgrading their qualifications," Mr Mackie said.

One of the group, Katelyn Saunders, said that when she finished Year 12 at Mt Gravatt State High last year she didn't know what she wanted to do.

When she found out about the Project 2800 indigenous traineeships at DET, she jumped at the chance, starting work last week.

“It’s excellent,” she said. There’s plenty of opportunities here and I can definitely see a career path in this department."

Studying at university was also something she was now considering, she said.

Indigenous education expert and Stronger Smarter Institute director Chris Sarra said historically it had been easier for indigenous children to drop out of school than complete Year 12.

"So in circumstances where the kids show they have the resilience to get through 12 years of schooling, the least we can do is deliver on a job, a vocational outcome or a university place," he said.

"If we can get this right and expose indigenous kids to this new reality, there'll be a tremendous return.

"The younger kids will see their brothers, sisters and cousins completing school and going straight into work or further studies that then becomes normal, the new reality."