New South Wales - Northern Rivers

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REGIONAL EDUCATION, SKILLS AND JOBS
PLAN
NEW SOUTH WALES – NORTHERN RIVERS
2012 – 2014
JULY 2013
This plan was first published in July 2012. This is the July 2013 edition.
Details in this report are correct at time of drafting.
This report can be found at the Regional Education, Skills and Jobs webpage (www.deewr.gov.au/resj) or the
My Region website (www.myregion.gov.au).
For more information about this plan, please contact:
The Office of Regional Education, Skills and Jobs
GPO Box 9880
Canberra ACT 2601
Email: oresj@deewr.gov.au
ISBN:
978-0-642-78627-2 [PDF]
978-0-642-78628-9 [DOCX]
With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms and where otherwise noted all material presented in this
document is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/).
The details of the relevant licence conditions (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/legalcode) are
available on the Creative Commons website (accessible using the links provided) as is the full legal code for the
CC BY 3.0 AU licence.
The document must be attributed as the Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Plan 2012-14 – Northern Rivers.
Disclaimer about data used in this plan
Data used in the development of this plan comes from a variety of sources and was correct at time of drafting. This
document should not be used as a data source as data referred to may have been updated or reformulated since
the publication of the plan. Refer to primary sources for confirmation of data.
Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Plan – Northern Rivers 2
www.deewr.gov.au/resj
CONTENTS
Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Plans ................................................................................ 4
Strategies .................................................................................................................................................. 4
Community engagement........................................................................................................................... 4
Implementation ........................................................................................................................................ 4
Executive summary ................................................................................................................ 5
Characteristics of the region ................................................................................................... 7
Population ................................................................................................................................................. 7
Early childhood education and care .......................................................................................................... 8
School education ....................................................................................................................................... 9
Tertiary education and training .............................................................................................................. 11
Jobs, skills and workforce development ................................................................................................. 13
Issues, goals and strategies ................................................................................................... 15
Issue 1
Closing the Gap in all areas for Indigenous Australians. ......................................................... 16
Issue 2 Increasing access to early childhood education services and supporting the sector to
transition to national reform requirements. .......................................................................................... 17
Issue 3
Low engagement for vulnerable or disengaged school students. .......................................... 19
Issue 4 Increasing participation in education and training opportunities to support industries which
are transforming or expanding. .............................................................................................................. 20
Issue 5 Responding to multispeed labour market conditions across the region with high youth and
Indigenous unemployment, skill shortage areas and low workforce participation. .............................. 21
Appendices .......................................................................................................................... 23
Appendix A — Stakeholders .................................................................................................................... 23
Appendix B — Existing related plans and strategies ............................................................................... 24
Abbreviations ....................................................................................................................... 26
REGIONAL EDUCATION, SKILLS AND JOBS PLANS
The Australian Government announced the Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Plans initiative in the
2011–12 Budget, as part of the Building Australia’s Future Workforce package. The initiative addresses
four key areas of the Australian Government’s productivity and social inclusion agendas: early childhood
education and care; Year 12 attainment; participation in vocational and higher education; and local job
opportunities.
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) has deployed 34 Regional
Education, Skills and Jobs (RESJ) Coordinators to work with local stakeholders to develop Regional
Education, Skills and Jobs Plans for the 46 Regional Development Australia (RDA) areas that cover nonmetropolitan Australia.
The plans present locally identified opportunities and challenges and outline local strategies to improve
education, skills and jobs outcomes in regional Australia.
For more information, including the contact details of your local RESJ Coordinator, please refer to the
Regional Education, Skills and Jobs webpage at www.deewr.gov.au/resj.
Strategies
Each plan reflects community priorities and includes goals and local strategies to achieve the
community’s objectives, based on four key themes: early childhood education and care; school
education; tertiary education and training; and jobs, skills and workforce development.
The plans build on the range of services and programs already offered by DEEWR and the strategies draw
on the programs of other government agencies and the opportunities arising from major local projects.
Community engagement
The plans were developed by RESJ Coordinators with close community engagement and include views
from young people, parents, employers, educators, service providers, peak bodies, community leaders,
government organisations and agencies, and other interested individuals and organisations. The plans
draw strongly upon existing strategic plans in each region, including the local RDA regional plan.
DEEWR acknowledges the traditional owners of the Northern Rivers RDA region and their elders past and
present recognising their continuing connection to country. This plan strives to build and harness
mutually respectful relationships and reflect community priorities in education, skills and jobs
development for the region.
Implementation
The RESJ Coordinator, on behalf of DEEWR, will oversee the implementation of the strategies and
promote and coordinate linkages between the government agencies, providers and stakeholders
involved in this plan’s implementation.
Progress towards achieving the goals within each plan will be closely monitored, while stakeholders will
be kept informed through participation in plan strategies.
This edition incorporates strategies that respond to changes in local circumstances identified through
continuing community input or changing government priorities in regional Australia as well as access to
new data. The plans continue to be living and responsive documents that will be revisited throughout
their implementation to June 2014.
Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Plan – Northern Rivers 4
www.deewr.gov.au/resj
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The Northern Rivers RDA region exhibits a subtropical climate and is home to world heritage listed
rainforests in the circle of the Tweed Caldera. In combination with the eastern coastline, there is a
growing tourism industry present in the region which is composed of over 300 villages and localities. The
traditional industries of agriculture and horticulture remain important to the economy, but
diversification into value-added items (such as specialised botanicals and high quality timber products) is
contributing to the development of the region. The region covers 20,732 square kilometres and stretches
from Grafton to Tweed Heads. The region includes seven Local Government Areas (LGAs): Clarence
Valley, Richmond Valley, Kyogle, Ballina, Lismore, Byron and Tweed.
A comprehensive environmental scan and community consultation have been carried out to identify the
key education, skills and jobs challenges for the region. The challenges include:

meeting Closing the Gap targets in all areas for Indigenous Australians

increasing access to early childhood education services and helping the sector to transition to
national reform requirements

low engagement for vulnerable or disengaged school students

increasing participation in education and training opportunities to support industries which are
transforming or expanding

responding to multispeed labour market conditions across the region, with high youth and
Indigenous unemployment, skill shortage areas and low workforce participation.
The key goals of the RESJ Plan are to:

contribute to Closing the Gap targets and ensure projects are locally connected

support early childhood education providers to have strategies in place to increase access and
meet the immediate and longer term national reform requirements

support the development of regionally focused and coordinated responses to increasing
engagement and retention opportunities for students who are vulnerable or disengaged from
education

localise pathways to tertiary and further education so that training and up-skilling match industry
need

increase linkages between the education, skills, employment and industry sectors to support jobs
growth and sustainable employment opportunities in the region.
The region is the traditional lands of the Bundjalung, Yaegl, Githabul and Gambaingirr Aboriginal nations,
which consist of a number of tribes and clans.
The Northern Rivers RDA region has a strong competitive advantage due to its diverse economic base
and benefits from its cultural heritage and biodiversity.
Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Plan – Northern Rivers 5
www.deewr.gov.au/resj
The RDA Northern Rivers Committee has a broad plan that includes opportunities for education, skills
and employment. The region is also part of the Richmond-Tweed and Clarence Valley priority
employment area and has a Local Employment Coordinator in place. The Northern Rivers RESJ Plan
complements the existing goals and strategies in the Northern Rivers RDA Plan and the Local
Employment Coordinator’s Regional Employment Plan.
Some outcomes achieved by the RESJ Coordinator working with stakeholders include:

Developing and identifying sources of funding for a Homework Club which provides eight
Indigenous children aged 8-16 in the Ngaru Village with an environment to complete their
homework before arts and crafts activities. The RESJ Coordinator continues to be involved in this
project to possibly expand the Homework Club and link the activity to creative activities for
teenagers in the region to increase school engagement and retention. This activity is part of a
broader strategy, endorsed by the Birrigan Gargle Local Aboriginal Lands Council, to improve
education and employment issues facing Indigenous people in Yamba.

Developing transport options for young people in Kyogle to improve access to education and
training facilities in Lismore, Casino and Wollongbar. The RESJ Coordinator worked closely with
Kyogle Council and other stakeholders to ensure Kyogle residents could access training provided
by registered training organisations through organised carpooling, overnight accommodation or
other local arrangements.

Working with the RDA Mid North Coast to hold ‘Coordinator Connect’, a regional workforce
development forum where 95 participants discussed a variety of government and nongovernment programs to support workforce development issues and the challenges and issues
facing the region.

Assisting to develop an Indigenous Employment Program project for the Aboriginal Child and
Family Centre in West Ballina, supporting ten Aboriginal participants to undertake preemployment training for both the construction and operation of the Centre. The Centre will
provide a hub that would enable parents and families to access a range of culturally appropriate
services in the one place.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE REGION
This section sets out the characteristics of the region identified through a comprehensive environmental
scan and local consultations. The information detailed in this section is not exhaustive of the
characteristics of the region, but provides an overview and insight to some of the challenges facing the
region.
To guide the RESJ Coordinator’s identification of issues and engagement with the community, various
data sets have supported the development of this plan. Data used in the development of this plan was
sourced from DEEWR, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and other relevant sources. Data referred
to may have been reformulated and was correct at time of drafting. Different data sets are refreshed at
different intervals, for example, unemployment rates are updated monthly for national and
state/territory figures and quarterly for regions.
Population
Population by age statistics are sourced from the 2011 Census Estimated Resident Populations (ERPs).
These are official estimates of the Australian population, which link people to a place of usual residence
within Australia. The latest population figures show the Northern Rivers region to have a total of 287,809
persons (see Table 1 below). The region continues to grow, however at a slower rate than prior to 2006.
Table 1: Northern Rivers RDA region population by LGA
Local Government Area
2001
2006
2011
Ballina (A)
38,159
40,293
40,753
Byron (A)
29,689
30,700
30,825
Clarence Valley (A)
48,617
50,089
51,252
Kyogle (A)
9817
9672
9537
Lismore (C)
43,064
44,166
44,282
Richmond Valley (A)
21,183
22,143
22,697
Tweed (A)
74,577
83,089
88,463
Total
265,106
28,0152
287,809
Source: Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2010-2011
There are population projections cited within the Northern Rivers RDA Regional Profile which suggest
that the region may continue to grow and by 2036 have as many as 316,000 residents.
2011 Census data shows that, 4.1 per cent of the Northern River’s population identified as Indigenous,
compared with 2.5 per cent in New South Wales as a whole. The Richmond Valley and the Clarence
Valley both have high Indigenous populations (6.4% and 5.7% respectfully). The Closing the Gap for
Indigenous Australians initiative encapsulates important targets where the Northern Rivers RDA region
stands to make significant progress.
Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Plan – Northern Rivers 7
www.deewr.gov.au/resj
There is projected future pressure on skills in health and aged care sectors as Planning NSW has
indicated the percentage of the population aged 65 and over within the Northern Rivers RDA area is
expected to rise from 19.3 per cent in 2011 to 29.3 per cent in 2036. The findings of the 2011 Census
show that the regional age bracket 15 – 64 has remained relatively stable from 2001 to 2011, however
the 65 years and over age group has increased in size by 2 per cent in the same period. Data sources
indicate that the Kyogle and Richmond Valley LGAs face particular socio-economic disadvantages.
At September 2012, Byron LGA’s unemployment rate was the highest in the region (7.6% compared to
5.2% for NSW generally).
Early childhood education and care
Currently, 163 child care centres, 28 preschools and one child and family centre provide early childhood
education services in the region. These services include public, private and community-based service
providers delivering preschool, occasional care, family day care, long day care and outside school hours
care services.
The Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) measures young children’s development across five
domains: physical health and well-being; social competence; emotional maturity; school-based language
and cognitive skills; and general knowledge. 2009 AEDI data indicated at a national level that
23.6 per cent of children were vulnerable on one or more domain and 11.8 per cent were vulnerable on
two or more domains. The AEDI found that the community of Tweed had the lowest proportions of
vulnerable children for the region, less than the national rates on both measures. However, the AEDI
communities of Kyogle and Lismore had the highest proportions of vulnerable children in the region,
more than the national averages on both measures.
As part of the National Reform Agenda for Early Childhood, the Australian Government has committed to
achieving universal access to early childhood education for all children in the year before school. Under
the National Quality Framework, early childhood education providers must meet new requirements such
as mandatory employee qualifications, higher educator-to-child ratios and other key staffing
arrangements, to be phased in between 2012 and 2020.
The NSW Government estimates that 5800 NSW child care workers will require up skilling as part of the
early childcare reforms. To ensure experienced early childhood employees obtain or upgrade
qualifications to meet the minimum qualification requirements, there is a need for flexibility in the
delivery of training and assessment for these staff. This should include access to Recognition of Prior
Learning, and ongoing and sometimes intensive assistance with workforce development for some
centres.
Stakeholder feedback highlights the need for further focus on building the capability and viability of early
childhood services to service small communities. This is particularly important given some of these small
communities have a significant proportion of low socio-economic households. Feedback also highlights a
need to focus on expanding programs which support a child’s readiness for school, both cognitively and
emotionally.
School education
The NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC) provides information about schools in
New South Wales. The Northern Rivers RDA region falls within the NSW DEC North Coast Region.
Currently, NSW DEC is undergoing a departmental restructure which may result in changes to the
composition of these Regions in the near future. However, data to date remains classified by the North
Coast Region.
There are 143 primary schools, 25 secondary schools, 22 combined schools and four special schools in
the Northern Rivers RDA area. Student attendance rates at primary and secondary schools vary across
the region.
The highest school attendance rate for the Northern Rivers RDA region is in the Clarence Valley area and
the lowest student attendance rate is in the Richmond Valley Hinterland area. Many issues affect school
enrolment and attendance. The Richmond Valley Hinterland area has more complex challenges in
achieving higher levels of attendance than other areas—for example, transport difficulties and barriers
associated with living on a low income.
The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is an annual assessment
completed by every student in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 in four domains: reading, writing, language and
numeracy. Any student at or above the minimum standard has achieved the basic skills of literacy and
numeracy for that year and has the required skills to fully participate in schooling. The NSW Department
of Education and Communities’ regional results from 2010 (Table 2) show that the North Coast region is
slightly below the NSW average for reading but on par with numeracy.
Table 2: DEC North Coast Region students at or above the minimum standard in 2011 (%)
Year 3
Reading
Numeracy
Year 5
Year 7
Year 9
NCR
NSW
NCR
NSW
NCR
NSW
NCR
NSW
94.1
95.4
88.6
91.2
94.2
95.1
91.4
91.3
96
96.5
94.1
95
93.7
94.5
92.4
92.9
DEC = Department of Education and Communities (NSW); NCR = North Coast Region (a DEC testing category)
Source: DEC NSW, Regional Statistics and Reports, 2011
Many factors influence the decision to complete Year 12 and progress along the pathway to further skills
development or higher education. Statistics suggest that gender, geographical location, indigeneity,
parental characteristics, disability status, and health all affect a person’s likelihood of attaining Year 12 or
equivalent.
Parental engagement is critical across the continuum of education as the characteristics of parents are
directly correlated with the educational outcomes of their children. In 2009, data from the ABS Survey of
Education and Training showed that people aged 20 to 24 years were more likely to have attained Year
12 if both their parents or guardians had attained Year 12 (90%) than if only one or neither parent or
guardian had attained Year 12 (78% and 68% respectively). Programs such as Fresh Start, Careerlink and
Stellar in the Clarence Valley, supported by a strong base of stakeholders, demonstrate better practice
models for engaging young people and parents to improve education and employment outcomes.
As part of the National Partnership Agreement for Youth Attainment and Transitions, the Council of
Australian Governments (COAG) has set a target of 90 per cent Year 12 or equivalent attainment by
2015. At the 2011 Census, the Year 12 completion rate in the Northern Rivers RDA was 36.3 per cent,
which was significantly below the New South Wales rate of 49.2 per cent. COAG has responded to the
issue of early school leaving with a national agreement lifting the minimum school leaving age to 17
years.
As of January 2013 State Training Services NSW reported on the Integrated Vocational Education and
Training System (IVETS) database that, there were 28 School-based Apprenticeships and
302 Traineeships in the NSW DEC North Coast region, the majority being within: business services; retail;
community services; health services; pharmacy and hospitality. Many stakeholders have reported that
skill shortages indicate there is a need to grow the number of School-based Apprenticeships and
Traineeships across the RDA Mid North Coast region.
The Trade Training Centres in Schools Program provides opportunities for students to stay in school and
start on a pathway to employment in skill needs areas. Centres have arrangements in place that
maximise the opportunities for young people to gain training and experience by using the centres
holistically to benefit the community through supporting School-based Apprenticeships and
Traineeships, and linking and sharing with other schools and registered training organisations in the
region.
Trade training is an important element of the government’s workforce development agenda and will
help address national skills shortages in traditional trades and emerging industries. In addition to the
NSW Government’s investment in trade schools, the Northern Rivers RDA region has received
Commonwealth funding for nine Trade Training Centres in Schools as follows:
 Funding Round One
o Lower Clarence Trade Training Centre Consortium at Maclean High School and Maclean TAFE
(metal, engineering and construction), Maclean ($1.3 million)
o Murwillumbah Agricultural Trade Training Centre at Murwillumbah High School (aquaculture
and horticulture), Murwillumbah ($3 million)
 Funding Round Two
o Richmond Ranges Trade Training Centre at Kyogle (hospitality), Bonalbo (construction) and
Casino (engineering) schools, Kyogle ($4.5 million)
o Lismore Community Trade Training Centre at Kadina (hospitality), Lismore (carpentry),
Nimbin and Richmond River (metals, horticulture and hospitality) and Wilson Park schools,
Lismore ($7.5 million)
 Funding Round Four
o Woodenbong Trade Training Centre at Woodenbong Central School (agriculture, horticulture
and hospitality), Woodenbong ($503,000)
o Tweed Valley Adventist College Trade Training and Function Centre at Tweed Valley
Adventist College (hospitality), Murwillumbah ($650,000)
o St Mary’s Catholic College Trade Training Centre at St Mary’s Catholic College (automotive
and horticulture), Casino ($1.3 million)
o Emmanuel Anglican College Trade Training Centre at Emmanuel Anglican College
(hospitality), Ballina ($1.4 million)
o
Woodlawn Trade Training Centre at St John’s College Woodlawn (construction,
manufacturing and hospitality), Lismore ($1.5 million).
Round Five of the TTC in Schools Program will be conducted in two phases with ‘in-principle’ funding for
successful projects in Phase One expected to be announced in 2013 and Phase Two expected to open in
August 2013.
Eligible New South Wales students undertake structured workplace learning to fulfil mandatory work
placement requirements as part of the NSW Higher School Certificate, Industry Curriculum Framework
VET and TAFE VET courses. Work placement service providers link students and parents, schools, TAFE
and employers to facilitate effective placements. For the 2011 calendar year, there were nearly 3000
work placements across the region.
Community feedback highlights the importance of programs which facilitate alternative ways for
participants to access services. Targeted interventions can be effective at increasing enrolment,
attendance and achievement in school education. For example, a project called the Green Team is
operated by Evans River Central School and achieves increased retention of male students in Year 9.
Tertiary education and training
Participation in vocational education and training (VET) in the Northern Rivers RDA area (10%) is higher
than the Australian average (8%). There is a large network of private registered training organisations
and seven community college campuses in the region. The North Coast TAFE has nine campuses across
the Northern Rivers RDA region. Schools also deliver VET subjects as the Department of Education and
Communities is a registered training organisation offering certificate II qualifications.
Table 3 provides further information on vocational and tertiary qualifications.
Table 3: Proportion of people with vocational and tertiary qualifications (% of population)
Northern Rivers RDA
NSW
Australia
Certificate III/IV
45
34
35
Bachelor degree
12
30
32
Source: RDA Northern Rivers Regional Profile, 2011
According to State Training Services NSW in 2011, there were 3429 commencements in apprenticeships
in the region, with 2046 completions. This represents a 59 per cent completion rate, equivalent to the
national rate. Casino and Lismore areas had the highest apprenticeship completion rate, at 65 per cent.
The Indigenous completion rate was 32 per cent, which is significantly lower than the non-Indigenous
rate of 62 per cent. The Clarence Valley had the highest completion rate for Indigenous apprenticeships,
at 42 per cent. These statistics indicate that there is capacity to improve apprenticeship completion rates
in the Northern Rivers RDA region, particularly by Indigenous people.
The Northern Rivers RDA region is serviced by the Southern Cross University, and according to 2011
Census data, 19 per cent of people in the region have a bachelor degree level qualification. This is
significantly lower than the national rate of approximately 32 per cent
As reported by the Australian Council for Educational Research the Australian Government’s university
attainment target is to have 40 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds achieving admission to a bachelor degree
or higher by 2025.
Through the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development, COAG has set two long-term
targets to grow the skill mix of the Australian workforce:

halve the proportion of Australians aged 20 to 64 years without qualifications at certificate III
level and above between 2009 and 2020 (equating to 76.4% of that population possessing
qualifications by 2020)
 double the number of higher qualification completions (diploma and advanced diploma)
between 2009 and 2020 (equating to 108 230 by 2020).
In its 2009–2010 Budget, the Australian Government announced an ambition for 20 per cent of higher
education enrolments at the undergraduate level to be from people of a low socio-economic status
background by 2020. The Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) aims to
ensure that Australians from low SES backgrounds who have the ability to study at university get the
opportunity to do so. It provides funding to selected universities to undertake activities and implement
strategies that improve access to undergraduate courses for people from low SES backgrounds, as well as
improving the retention and completion rates of those students.
The Southern Cross University (SCU) was established in 1994 and has major campuses in Lismore and
Tweed Heads. SCU offers 10 course options in two faculties: arts and sciences; and business and law. SCU
also has seven research centres focusing on a variety of topics, including plant and water resources;
marine ecology; tourism; children and young people; and gambling.
Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples is based at the Lismore campus of SCU. Gnibi is the
Bundjalung word for ‘black swan’ and the college focuses on Indigenous teaching, learning and research.
Gnibi offers a variety of education qualifications and expanded career options in areas of trauma and
healing and Indigenous studies.
In December 2011, the Australian Government announced that SCU would receive $32.1 million from the
Structural Adjustment Fund for the Partners for the Future project. This project included the
construction of SCU College on the Gold Coast. The funding will also upgrade and expand SCU’s IT
infrastructure. The project will be delivered in partnership with both North Coast TAFE and the Gold
Coast Institute of TAFE. Once completed, SCU College will give residents of northern NSW increased
access to higher education.
Approximately 290 residents of the Northern Rivers RDA region are studying by distance with Charles
Sturt University. Charles Sturt University offers courses in fields such as agriculture, allied health,
business, humanities and medical science.
The University of New England also services the Northern Rivers, with nearly 600 distance education
students residing in the region. The University of New England offers courses in fields such as education,
health, law, arts and science.
Jobs, skills and workforce development
In September 2012, the unemployment rate for the Northern Rivers RDA region was 5.7 per cent. This
was higher than the 5.2 per cent for New South Wales. At this time, Byron and Kyogle LGAs were
unemployment ‘hot spots’ in the region (7.6% and 6.6 % respectively). The Indigenous unemployment
rate for the Northern Rivers RDA area was significantly higher, at 20.4 per cent.
Table 4 shows some comparisons between the regional areas in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Table 4: Unemployment rates in selected Northern Rivers RDA areas (%)
Small Area Labour Market
December 2010
December 2011
September 2012
Clarence Valley (Coast)
8.4
7.5
6.4
Clarence Valley (Grafton)
7.0
6.5
5.9
Clarence Valley
6.8
6.3
5.8
Richmond Valley
7.4
6.8
6.1
Richmond Valley (Casino)
6.5
6.0
6.1
Kyogle
7.6
7.2
6.6
Lismore (A)
6.2
5.6
5.2
Lismore (B)
6.3
5.8
5.3
Ballina
4.6
4.2
4.0
Byron
8.4
7.9
7.6
Tweed
6.9
6.4
5.9
Tweed (Tweed Coast)
6.4
5.9
5.4
Tweed (Tweed Heads
6.1
5.7
5.1
NSW
5.5
5.1
5.1
Australia
5.3
5.1
5.4
Source: DEEWR Small Area Labour Markets data
DEEWR labour market information indicated that in December 2011, the workforce participation rate in
the Northern Rivers RDA region was low (55.7%, compared with 64% for NSW generally). The average
duration of unemployment for job seekers in the Northern Rivers RDA was 48 weeks, longer than the
national average of 37 weeks. Research shows that the longer a job seeker is detached from the labour
market, the more difficult it is for them to re-enter the workforce.
Key features of the Northern Rivers regional labour market include: casualisation of the workforce,
under-employment, insecure work and long term unemployment. In regional centres, industry labour
markets have undergone significant change in the past two decades. The Northern Rivers RDA region
continues to rely strongly on employment in retail trade (14.4% of total employment), with the health
care and social sector now also accounting for a significant proportion of total employment in the region
(13.0%). Accommodation and food services, as well as manufacturing, continue to employ a large
percentage of the population.
The ABS publishes information on the number and characteristics of businesses in Australia as ‘Counts of
Australian Businesses’. According to its June 2007 data, the Northern Rivers RDA region contains a large
number of non-employing businesses when compared to NSW as a whole. Non-employing businesses
make up 62 per cent of all businesses in this region (15,333 non- employing businesses).
Key infrastructure projects like the $3.6 billion upgrade to the Pacific Highway and the National
Broadband Network (NBN) rollout will provide opportunities for increased education and labour market
outcomes. In particular, there are opportunities to promote apprenticeships across the Northern Rivers
RDA region. Training and skills delivery for jobs in demand could also be supported by existing Trade
Training Centres in the region.
DEEWR conducts surveys of employers’ recruitment experiences to assess the extent of recruitment
difficulty in particular regions and industries of Australia. During the August 2012 survey, employers
reported that some positions were difficult to fill, particularly in the occupations of real estate agents;
registered nurses; motor mechanics; chefs; and early childhood teachers. In lower skilled occupations,
difficulty was also found in filling positions for; truck drivers; child carers; receptionists; waiters; kitchen
hands; gardeners, and dental assistants. . It is important that the course profiles of VET and higher
education institutions are directly aligned with skills for such occupations.
The 2006 ABS Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey found that 40 per cent of Australian workers and
60 per cent of unemployed Australians have foundation skills below the level required to participate in a
modern workplace. Ensuring that people have access to training and skill development is critical for the
Northern Rivers RDA workforce, particularly in industry sectors which are growing or transforming, such
as communication services and education.
Stakeholder feedback suggests that providing access to affordable transport is a key requirement in
supporting participation in education or employment. The public transport system across the Northern
Rivers RDA region is limited and where possible, residents rely on private car use. According to Northern
Rivers RDA, 9.1 per cent of households in the region do not own a vehicle, however the rates range from
10.4 per cent in the Richmond Valley to 7.1 per cent in Byron and 7.6 per cent in Kyogle. The costs
associated with gaining and maintaining a licence are prohibitive for some residents.
In partnership with business and the community, Northern Rivers RDA has developed a wide range of
projects to support economic and social development in the region. The RESJ Coordinator and Northern
Rivers RDA are identifying opportunities to maximise the use of Australian Government programs to
support these projects.
The RESJ Coordinator also works closely with the Local Employment Coordinator for Richmond-Tweed
and Clarence Valley on high youth unemployment and early school leaving; foundation skills and
employability capabilities; industry sector skill shortages; NBN education and training needs; and
maximising jobs and skills expos across the Northern Rivers RDA region.
ISSUES, GOALS AND STRATEGIES
This section sets out the issues and goals identified through local consultation. It also details the specific
strategies that will help achieve the community’s objectives. The issues and strategies will be reviewed
and may be modified throughout the implementation of the plan to June 2014 to ensure they respond to
emerging issues and opportunities or changing community or government priorities in the Northern
Rivers RDA region.
The programs and stakeholders listed in the following tables are indicative only. Both may vary over time
and any listing does not guarantee either the availability of program funding or stakeholder involvement.
The four key themes of the Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Plans initiative are:

Early childhood education and care

School education

Tertiary education and training

Jobs, skills and workforce development
The numbering of each issue is for ease of reference only and does not indicate its priority within the
region. They are generally sequenced according to the life cycle of the four key themes listed above.
Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Plan – Northern Rivers 15
www.deewr.gov.au/resj
Issue 1
Closing the Gap in all areas for Indigenous Australians.
Goal:
Contribute to Closing the Gap targets and ensure projects are locally connected.
Theme(s):
Early childhood education and care; School education; Tertiary education and
training; Jobs, skills and workforce development.
Strategies
Stakeholders
Programs







Encourage service providers to implement
strategies, including the use of the Indigenous
Employment Program (IEP) to train, support and
employ Indigenous staff.
Promote training available through literacy
programs such as the Workplace English Language
and Literacy (WELL) Program and the Skills for
Education and Employment Program (SEE)
(formerly the Language Literacy and Numeracy
Program) to industry as a means of skilling their
current and future workforce.
Work with State Training Services to support the
development of educational projects that link to
future employment opportunities for Indigenous
Australians.
Work with the Local Employment Coordinator to
link Indigenous projects with education and skills
funding opportunities.
Collaborate closely with NSW Government officers
to locally link Australian Government Indigenous
programs with state-delivered initiatives.
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
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








Aboriginal Economic
Development Officers
Aboriginal Education
Consultative Groups
Building Australia’s
Future Workforce
Northern Rivers
Committee
Department of
Education and
Communities (NSW)
Department of Family
and Community
Services (NSW)
Department of Trade
and Investment
(NSW)
Disability Employment
Services (DES)
providers
IEP panel members
Indigenous
Coordination Centre
Job Services Australia
(JSA) providers
Local area land
councils
Local Employment
Coordinator
NSW Aboriginal
Affairs
Regional
Development
Australia Northern
Rivers
Registered training
organisations
School Business
Community
Partnership Brokers
State Training Services
(NSW)












Australian
Government Skills
Connect
DES
IEP
Indigenous Youth
Career Pathways
Program
Indigenous Youth
Leadership Program
Indigenous Youth
Mobility Program
JSA
SEE
New Careers for
Aboriginal People
Parental and
Community
Engagement Program
School Business
Community
Partnership Brokers
Supplementary
Recurrent Assistance
WELL
Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Plan – Northern Rivers 16
www.deewr.gov.au/resj
Issue 2
Increasing access to early childhood education services and
supporting the sector to transition to national reform
requirements.
Goal:
Early childhood education providers have strategies in place for increased access
to early childhood education services.
Theme(s):
Early childhood education and care; School education; Tertiary education and
training; Jobs, skills and workforce development.
Strategies
Stakeholders
Programs





Explore opportunities to link existing early
childhood education infrastructure to support
satellite or outreach services. This includes
investigating funding sources to expand mobile
early childhood education services.
Work with stakeholders to increase the number of
Indigenous traineeships, including School based
Apprenticeships and Traineeships (SbATs), in early
childhood education and care sector. An increased
Indigenous childcare workforce will encourage
increased participation of children in early
education services.
Investigate possible funding sources to replicate
local place-based projects in other locations where
Indigenous families are not enrolling their children
in early childhood services.

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







Aboriginal Education
Consultative Groups
Ballina Child and
Family Centre
Reference Group
Department of Family
and Community
Services (NSW)
Early childhood
education services
Families NSW
implementation
group
Far North Coast Early
Childhood Area
Managers Group
Local councils
Northern Rivers Social
Development Council
Preschool directors
network
Universities
Young Women’s
Christian Association




Child and Family
Centres
Communities for
Children
Early Years Learning
Framework
Schools as
Communities
Supplementary
Recurrent Assistance
Goal:
Support early childhood education providers to have strategies in place to meet
the immediate and longer term national reform requirements.
Theme(s):
Early childhood education and care; School education; Tertiary education and
training; Jobs, skills and workforce development.
Strategies
Stakeholders
Programs









Use existing forums and networks to provide
information on key government initiatives and
programs to early childhood education providers in
the region to meet national reform requirements.
Assist workers in the early childhood education
sector to gain formal qualifications and/or upgrade
their skills, including promoting the Recognition of
Prior Learning Assessment Grant.
With the Department of Family and Community
Services and other stakeholders, establish a
regional project which brings identified Early
Childhood Education Champions to communities to
help providers to meet requirements.
Provide support to early childhood education and
care providers to access funding, programs and
initiatives.
Identify and promote flexible training delivery
options for existing workers, including bringing
trainers to providers and using technology to access
training.
Work with early childhood education providers and
identify workers who need additional language and
literacy support to meet qualification requirements.
Link providers with the appropriate Industry Skills
Council Workplace English Language and Literacy
(WELL) broker to develop tailored projects.
Through the Far North Coast Area Managers
Network, identify experienced workers and link
with funded Recognition of Prior Learning
providers.
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

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






Australian Children’s
Education and Care
Quality Authority
Ballina Child and
Family Centre
Reference Group
Communities for
Children
Community
Connections Solutions
Australia
Department of
Education and
Communities (NSW)
Department of Family
and Community
Services (NSW)
Department of
Human Services
Department of
Industry, Innovation,
Climate Change,
Science, Research and
Tertiary Education
Disability Employment
Services (DES)
providers
Early Childhood
Australia (NSW)
Early Intervention
Collegiate
Far North Coast Early
Childhood Area
Managers Group
Gowrie NSW
IEP panel members
Jobs Services Australia
(JSA) providers
Northern Rivers Social
Development Council
Professional Support
Coordinator
Registered training
organisations
State Training Services
Young Women’s
Christian Association
















Australian
Apprenticeships
Centres
Australian
Government Skills
Connect
DES
Early Years Learning
Framework
HECS-HELP
IEP
Inclusion and
Professional Support
Program
Indigenous
Professional Support
Unit
IYCP
JSA
Skills for Education
and Employment
Parental and
Community
Engagement
Recognition of Prior
Learning Assessment
Grant
School-based
Apprenticeships and
Traineeships
Structured workplace
learning
TAFE Fee Waiver
WELL
Issue 3
Low engagement for vulnerable or disengaged school students.
Goal:
Increased engagement and retention opportunities for students who are
vulnerable or disengaged from education.
Theme(s):
Early childhood education and care; School education; Tertiary education and
training.
Strategies
Stakeholders
Programs









Facilitate meetings of school education providers to
explore increased linkages between preschool and
kindergarten.
Bring together the Community of Schools group to
discuss school exclusion rates and other proactive
steps to keep children and young people engaged
with school education.
Through membership of existing school and
community partnership groups, contribute
knowledge and promote programs which support
developmentally vulnerable students in primary
school.
Work with stakeholders to develop alternative
transport options, both public and private, to
reduce this barrier for students engaging with
school education.
Explore options for industry stakeholders, including
members of the Building Australia’s Future
Workforce Committee Northern Rivers, to better
support apprenticeship attraction, preparation,
retention and completion.
Connect and coordinate with the existing youth
providers to better identify and support students at
risk of early school leaving and employment
pathways.
In line with the national participation requirements
for young people, ensure that employment services
programs re-enrol young people, where
appropriate, with an education or training provider
to achieve Year 12 or an equivalent qualification.

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












Aboriginal Education
Consultative Groups
Building Australia’s
Future Workforce
Northern Rivers
Committee
Career Advisers
Disability Employment
Services (DES)
providers
Early childhood
education providers
Industry Skills
Councils
Job Services Australia
(JSA) providers
Local councils
Local Employment
Coordinator
Northern Rivers Social
Development Council
NSW Business
Chamber
Registered training
organisations
School Business
Community
Partnership Brokers
Schools
Schools as
Communities
Youth Connections
providers
Youth Services












Australian
Apprenticeships
Centres
DES
Indigenous Youth
Careers program
Indigenous Youth
Mobility program
JSA
Learn Earn Legend!
National School
Chaplaincy and
Student Welfare
Program
School Business
Community
Partnership Broker
Sisters on about
Resilience Network
Structured workplace
learning
Titans Beyond
Tomorrow
Trade Training
Centres in Schools
Youth Connections
Issue 4
Increasing participation in education and training opportunities
to support industries which are transforming or expanding.
Goal:
Localised pathways to tertiary and further education so that training and upskilling match industry need.
Theme(s):
Tertiary education and training.
Strategies
Stakeholders
Programs









Explore the development of a Northern Rivers Uni
Portal to link, promote and expand projects that
focus on vocational education and training (VET)
pathways to higher education.
Coordinate partnerships between the education
sector, service providers and industry to maximise
benefits from existing and new Trade Training
Centres in schools across the region.
Collaborate closely with registered training
organisations to ensure the uptake of Australian
Government programs are maximised concerning
VET pathways to higher education.
Work collaboratively with stakeholders to maximise
opportunities from new VET and higher education
providers in the region to increase bachelor degree
attainment levels.
Liaise and work with the local Indigenous Youth
Mobility program provider to promote the Coffs
Harbour service and increase access by Indigenous
young people from other communities within the
Northern Rivers region.
Support the Clarence Valley Industry Education
Forum to encourage VET and higher education
participation.
Work with group training organisations, employers
and industry to share best practice regarding
apprenticeship attraction, commencement and
completion.
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
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







Aboriginal Education
Consultative Groups
Building Australia’s
Future Workforce
Northern Rivers
Committee
Clarence Valley
Industry Education
Forum
Department of
Education and
Communities (NSW)
Disability Employment
Services (DES)
providers
Group training
organisations
Indigenous Youth
Mobility Program
(IYMP) provider
Industry Skills
Councils
Job Services Australia
(JSA) providers
Local Employment
Coordinator
National Centre for
Vocational Education
Research
Northern Rivers Social
Development Council
NSW Business
Chamber
Registered training
organisations
School Business
Community
Partnership Brokers
Schools
State Training Services
(NSW)
Universities












Australian
Apprenticeship Access
Program (ACCESS)
Australian
Apprenticeships
Centres
Australian
Government Skills
Connect
DES
Education Investment
Fund
Future Moves
Higher Education
Participation and
Partnerships Program
IYMP
JSA
Lifting Educational
Aspirations of Parents
and Students project
School Business
Community
Partnership Brokers
program
Structural Adjustment
Fund
Trade Training
Centres in Schools
Issue 5
Responding to multispeed labour market conditions across the
region with high youth and Indigenous unemployment, skill
shortage areas and low workforce participation.
Goal:
Increased linkages between education, skills, employment and industry sectors to
meet current and future employment needs.
Theme(s):
Tertiary education and training; Jobs, skills and workforce development.
Strategies
Stakeholders
Programs











Work closely with the Local Employment
Coordinator (LEC) to connect projects and initiatives
across education, and skills development to
sustainable employment.
Provide support to existing forums and meetings to
bring together stakeholders from early childhood,
education, youth and Indigenous programs to
discuss and plan education projects which are
linked to later employment.
Support existing programs, projects and
partnerships to increase access to and participation
in study and work for people from low socioeconomic status backgrounds, people from
culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and
young people.
Champion a project where industry or employers
adopt a Trade Training Centre to help link industries
with available jobs or skills shortages and training
participants.
Support the engagement of businesses and
stakeholders to plan education projects linked to
later employment.
Work closely with the LEC to support activities
related to the rollout of the National Broadband
Network (NBN) in the region. This includes
reviewing opportunities for young people and
Indigenous Australians to source training that leads
to employment.
Link existing Indigenous Employment Program
projects in the region with the Language, Literacy
and Numeracy program and Workplace English
Language and Literacy program to support training
and employment outcomes.
Work with stakeholders to encourage investment in
training to increase staff capability and grow local
businesses.
Work in collaboration with education and skills
projects being undertaken by Regional
Development Australia (RDA) Northern Rivers.
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
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


Aboriginal Education
Consultative Groups
Balund-a correctional
facility
Building Australia’s
Future Workforce
Committee
Clarence Valley
Industry Education
Forum
Coffs Harbour NBN
Committee
Department of
Industry, Innovation,
Climate Change,
Science, Research and
Tertiary Education
Disability Employment
Services (DES)
providers
Employers
Group training
organisations
Job Services Australia
(JSA) providers
Local councils
LEC
North Coast
Vocational Education
and Training
Promotional and
Advisory Committee
Northern Rivers
Business Enterprise
Centre
Northern Rivers Social
Development Council
NSW Business
Chamber
RDA Northern Rivers
Registered training
organisations
Schools

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









Australian
Apprenticeships
Centres
Australian
Government Skills
Connect
DES
Enterprise Connect
Indigenous
Employment Program
Indigenous Industry
Skills Centres
Investing in
Experience – Skills
Recognition and
Training
JSA
Language, Literacy
and Numeracy
program
NBN-Enabled
Education and Skills
Services
School Business
Community
Partnership Brokers
Trade Training
Centres in Schools
Workplace English
Language and Literacy
program
Youth Connections
Goal:
Jobs growth and sustainable employment opportunities in the region.
Theme(s):
Tertiary education and training; Jobs, skills and workforce development.
Strategies
Stakeholders
Programs








Work closely with the Local Employment
Coordinator to support projects across the
Northern Rivers region, including Jobs and Skills
Expos.
Link locations of high unemployment or low skills
attainment with available resources and investment
projects in regard to education and skills
development.
Where labour markets are transforming and little or
no jobs growth is forecast, explore other
employment opportunities that may be viable (e.g.
social enterprises or Fly-In Fly-Out projects).
Collaborate with Job Services Australia (JSA)
providers, Disability Employment Services (DES)
providers, Indigenous Employment Project (IEP)
panel members and Indigenous organisations to
increase the number of work-ready parents, early
school leavers, Indigenous and mature-age clients
in the region.
Develop new and innovative ways Recognition of
Prior Learning can be used to maximise educational
outcomes and recognition of existing workers’
qualifications. Collaborate with the LEC and
employment stakeholders to maximise
employment outcomes for this project.
Work with NSW RESJ Coordinators to establish a
state-wide network of Industry Skills Councils,
education and training advisers and Enterprise
Connect officers to improve communication,
coordination and delivery of Australian Government
Skills Connect in the region.

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









Aboriginal Education
Consultative Groups
Building Australia’s
Future Workforce
Committee
Department of
Human Services
Department of Trade
and Investment
(NSW)
DES providers
Education and
training advisers
Enterprise Connect
Group training
organisations
IEP panel members
Industry Skills
Councils
JSA providers
Local Employment
Coordinator
Local area land
councils
Local councils
North Coast
Vocational Education
and Training
Promotional and
Advisory Committee
Northern Rivers
Business Enterprise
Centre
Northern Rivers Social
Development Council
NSW Business
Chamber
RDA Northern Rivers
Registered training
organisations
School Business
Community
Partnership Brokers










Australian
Apprenticeships
Centres
Australian
Government Skills
Connect
DES
Enterprise Connect
IEP
JSA
Parent and
Community
Engagement program
Recognition of Prior
Learning Assessment
Grant
School Business
Community
Partnership Brokers
Social Enterprise
Development and
Investment Fund
VET National Program
APPENDICES
Appendix A — Stakeholders
Below is a list of organisations consulted during the development of this RESJ Plan, listed by sector.
Sector
Stakeholder
Local government
Ballina Shire Council; Byron Shire Council; Clarence Valley Council; Kyogle Shire
Council; Lismore City Council; Richmond Valley Council; and Tweed Shire
Council.
State government
Department of Education and Communities; Department of Planning and
Infrastructure; Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure
and Services; State Training Services, Department of Premier and Cabinet..
Government service
providers
ConnectNR (School Business Community Partnership Broker); EPIC Employment
(Job Services Australia and Disability Employment Services provider); Nortec Ltd
(Youth Connections provider); Youth Directions Inc (School Business
Community Partnership Broker).
Education
Clarence Valley Education Industry Forum; Department of Education and
Communities.
Vocational Education and
Training
North Coast TAFE; North Coast Vocational Education and Training Promotional
and Advisory Committee.
Higher education
Charles Sturt University; Southern Cross University; University of New England.
Employment
Building Australia’s Future Workforce Committee Northern Rivers; Local
Employment Coordinator (Richmond-Tweed and Clarence Valley); NSW
Business Chamber.
Regional development
Northern Rivers Social Development Council; Regional Development Australia
Committee Northern Rivers.
Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Plan – Northern Rivers 23
www.deewr.gov.au/resj
Appendix B — Existing related plans and strategies
This section includes some of the related strategic plans in the region which have:

influenced the direction of this RESJ Plan

have complementary goals and strategies and/or

have significance in the region in relation to education, skills and jobs.
It provides an overview of how each strategy or plan has had an impact on this RESJ Plan and how it may
be utilised to maximise outcomes.
Plan or strategy
Impact on RESJ Plan
Regional Development Australia
(RDA) Northern Rivers Regional
Plan 2011
The key economic, social and
environmental activities outlined
in the RDA Regional Plan impact on
education, skills and jobs.
Northern Rivers Regional Industry
and Economic Plan (RIEP)
The RIEP outlines the regional
economic profile of Northern
Rivers with recommended
strategic activity areas of focus.
Priority Employment Area initiative
- Regional Employment Plan:
Richmond–Tweed and Clarence
Valley
The Building Australia’s Future
Workforce Committee and the
goals contained in this Regional
Employment Plan connect with
activities of the RESJ Coordinator.
How it can be
used/linked/expanded
The RDA Regional Plan aligns with
this RESJ Plan as it aims to foster
aspiration through creating a
learning community in the
Northern Rivers. Desired Future
Outcomes of the 2011 Northern
Rivers Regional Plan is to grow
skills, training and early childhood,
primary, secondary and postsecondary education.
The RIEP outlines key issues in
industry and economy which
impact on this RESJ Plan,
particularly the needs of
businesses in the region’s key
industry strengths of agriculture
(horticulture, sugar, meat, dairy
and food value adding); building
and construction; creative
industries; education; health, aged
care and community services;
timber and forestry; fishing and
aquaculture; and tourism. These
sectors have been identified as
those to create sustainable jobs
growth for the region. This RESJ
Plan complements the RIEP.
This RESJ Plan complements the
five goals of the Regional
Employment Plan (e.g. the upgrade
of the Pacific Highway, and jobs
and skills expos in the Northern
Rivers).
Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Plan – Northern Rivers 24
www.deewr.gov.au/resj
Plan or strategy
Impact on RESJ Plan
NSW 2021
The education, skills and jobs
priority actions of NSW 2021
support and are connected with
goals outlined in the RESJ Plan.
DPC Regional Action Plan
Many Rivers Regional Partnership
Agreement
DEEWR is a party to the Many
Rivers agreement. The key
principles and targets of Many
Rivers inform the activities in the
RESJ Plan.
Two Ways Together: Partnerships:
A new way of doing business with
Aboriginal people (NSW Aboriginal
Affairs Plan 2003–2012)
Two Ways Together provides
guidance to the RESJ Coordinator
to ensure Aboriginal people are
consulted in culturally appropriate
ways.
How it can be
used/linked/expanded
The key focus areas of NSW 2021
are integrated with this RESJ Plan.
They include quality early
childhood education; student
achievement in literacy and
numeracy; Year 12 completion;
quality of teaching; and share of
jobs in regional NSW.
Objective 3, ‘Education, training
and employment continuum’,
aligns with activities outlined in
this RESJ Plan. Actions to achieve
Closing the Gap targets are aligned
in both documents.
The Two Ways Together Plan will
assist the RESJ Coordinator when
reviewing how services work with
Aboriginal individuals, families and
communities.
ABBREVIATIONS
Abbreviation
Full Term
ABS
Australian Bureau of Statistics
AEDI
Australian Early Development Index
COAG
Council of Australian Governments
DEC
Department of Education and Communities (NSW)
DES
Disability Employment Services
DEEWR
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
HEPPP
Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program
IEP
Indigenous Employment Program
IYCP
Indigenous Youth Careers Program
IYMP
Indigenous Youth Mobility Program
JSA
Job Services Australia
LEC
Local Employment Coordinator
LGA
Local Government Area
NAPLAN
National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy
NBN
National Broadband Network
RDA
Regional Development Australia
RESJ
Regional Education, Skills and Jobs
SCU
Southern Cross University
SEE
Skills for Education and Employment Program
VET
Vocational Education and Training
WELL
Workplace English Language and Literacy
Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Plan – Northern Rivers 26
www.deewr.gov.au/resj
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