Aboriginal Training Programs
54a Alanvale Road, Newnham
PO Box 1308, Launceston, TAS 7250 Australia
Ph (03) 6336 4209 Fax (03) 63364224
23 December 2013
Review of Indigenous Training and Employment
TasTAFE is the post-compulsory public vocational education and training provider in Tasmania.
TasTAFE operates within the broader Tasmanian educational system, as a commercially autonomous
organisation, that has a specific role to:
Engage with individuals who require support to gain vocational ready skills
Deliver vocational qualifications to individuals who wish to advance their career
Create a more rewarding and sustainable future for the community
Assist employers to lift the productivity of their workforces through skill development.
Aboriginal Training Programs (ATP) is the Indigenous unit for TasTAFE, and as such, supports
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to achieve their goals on their pathway to gaining
qualifications, skills and employment.
The role of pre-employment and skills development
Pre-employment and skills development programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at
TasTAFE have made a significant difference in many of our student’s lives. There is value in
foundation skills training that may not lead immediately to a job – improving language, literacy and
numeracy (LLN) skills, building confidence and finding the right vocational pathway. Overcoming
generational unemployment is difficult and it may take several attempts to find the right course at
the right time in that person’s life when they are able to overcome their personal barriers and
concentrate on their future goals. Foundation skills training including LLN skills are not always a
‘quick fix’ for Indigenous people, particularly mature people in our community. There can be great
benefits to the individual as well as the broader community (government and non-government) from
students building better life skills which reduce the dependency on public services. In 2013 over 40%
of 2012 Aboriginal students in the Certificate I in Active Volunteering course were still volunteering
in their local community and 66% continued onto further training up to Certificate III this year. This is
a cost benefit to the community and has provided these Indigenous students with a much more
positive perspective of their place in society. A number of these students who had been repeat
enrollers have not returned to TAFE as they have fulfilling roles volunteering.
A key factor in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people gaining and maintaining employment at
the beginning of their working life, whatever their age, hinges on their aspirations. If they do not
aspire to get a qualification or a job then they are not going to be committed to obtaining either.
Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our communities have been raised in families
where generational unemployment is the norm. To change a person’s aspirations can be tough providing positive experiences, ensuring that there are successful Indigenous people involved in
programs as role models and expanding student experience to demonstrate opportunities that will
generate interest for a future that includes employment.
The value of training and employment policies and programmes for Indigenous people
Improving employment outcomes for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is a goal that
we in ATP at TasTAFE aspire to. How to bridge the gap between training and employment – build in
LLN support through team teaching with a VET teacher and a literacy teacher in pre-entry programs
prior to a full qualification is one strategy to build student confidence and basic skills. Students
greatly improve their chance of being accepted into the full qualification and successfully
completing. Provide project based learning as a core component for the delivery of VET. Build in
supported work experience/placement into lower level vocational courses (below Certificate III) so
that the students have time in a real work place (must be supported by the employer to provide
meaningful work while there) and preparing students for the realities of work before entering a
workplace as part of their vocational course.
In 2006 a successful training to employment transition strategy for two groups of our students was
through the engagement of an employment consultant who reverse marketed students who gained
their certificates in hairdressing or construction to employers in the local region. The facilitation of
bringing an employer and a graduating student together resulted in 60% gaining traineeships,
apprenticeships was funded by DEEWR’s Structured Training and Employment Program (STEP).
TAFE can offer many opportunities but new strategies and interventions must be funded adequately
to create positive change for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students whether they are
young people who have disengaged from the compulsory education system, those youth
transitioning from year 12 into further education, mature age students, second chance learners or
those who need to reskill due to losing their job or through injury.
Accountability and information
In the 2011 MCEECDYA consultation on the National Indigenous Education Action Plan 2010-2014
http://www.mceecdya.edu.au/verve/_resources/IEAP_Stage_Two_Consultation_Draft_(2).pdf the Tasmanian
Polytechnic (now TasTAFE) strongly supported the development of a companion document as sited
on p.17 under ‘Pathways to real post-school options’
National collaborative action
40. MCEECDYA will request that the Ministerial Council on Tertiary Education and Employment develop a companion
document to the Indigenous Education Action Plan that outlines actions to close the gap in training, university and
employment outcomes. This companion document would improve links between the school sector and the training,
tertiary education and employment services sectors.
To date this document has yet to be developed but it has the potential to focus jurisdictions on
agreed actions and outcomes specific to post compulsory education and training for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islanders and ensure improved collaboration between VET providers, Job Search
Agencies and employers. All stakeholders need to have the capacity, and indeed the flexibility,
within their service delivery contracts/agreements to work cooperatively with other agencies to
achieve employment outcomes for Indigenous people.
Lyndel Holton
State Manager
Michelle Purdy
Aboriginal VET Officer