ON TRACK: Co-directors, Jeff McIllroy and Barry ‘Rainman’ Boland from Back on Track are leading the way with Dreaming Track,
ON TRACK: Co-directors, Jeff McIllroy and Barry ‘Rainman’ Boland from Back on Track are leading the way with Dreaming Track, Sharyn Oneill Rokstrack

Rocky program boosts indigenous employment statewide

A ROCKHAMPTON program is leading the way for young indigenous employment growth around Queensland.

And a new report shows investment in indigenous education and training would reap big rewards for the Australian economy.

The report, commissioned by Reconciliation Australia, found the Australian GDP would be 1.15%, or $24 billion larger in today's terms, if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment levels rose to match those of other Australians by 2031.

Rockhampton's Dreaming Track was conceived three years ago and has already prepared over 400 indigenous personnel for the workforce.

Jeff McIlroy, co-director of Back on Track Employment, Education and Training, which runs the program across Queensland began working in youth justice but said the program evolved into preparing work crews for mining and LNG.

Dreaming Track prepares young indigenous people to work in mining and LNG.

"Not everyone passes… this has to work for employers as well as employees," said Mr McIlroy.

"When they finish Dreaming Track, we know we're dealing with a good person in the right headspace, and a good team member who is ready to go on to certificate training and forward to a good career.

"We're looking for the leaders of the future."

Mr McIlroy said the biggest barrier to indigenous Australians having successful careers was the low expectations of employers. Those starting work as labourers, usually remain labourers.

"Succession planning to develop careers is sadly lacking and onsite mentoring is badly needed.

"There are so many indigenous people who are pulling huge money in the mines.

"But people don't want to talk about success stories.

"They have mortgages just like you and me… that's normal, but no-one wants to talk about the norm.

"These are people who want to do something with their lives."

On Friday, another group of graduates will leave to work onsite for two weeks as part of their training with Compass Group in the mining and LNG villages and camps.

EMPLOYMENT GAP

The workforce participation rate among the indigenous population is 53.8%, compared to 75% for the entire population.

The unemployment rate for indigenous Australians is 16.6%, four times the national rate.



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