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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Indigenous Skills and Employment Program (ISEP)

The Australian Government announced in the 2021-22 Budget a commitment to develop a new Indigenous Skills and Employment Program (ISEP) to replace the Vocational Training and Employment Centres (VTEC), Tailored Assistance Employment Grants (TAEG) and Employment Parity Initiative (EPI) from 1 July 2022.

The following information outlines these changes to Indigenous-specific employment investment through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy. For information about recently announced changes to the Community Development Program (CDP) please see The Community Development Program (CDP).

The ISEP will contribute to closing the gap in employment by supporting pathways to employment for Indigenous Australians, through flexible, locally informed investment.

The program will increase economic opportunities for Indigenous Australians and drive actions that connect Indigenous Australians to jobs, targeted skills acquisition and career advancement opportunities. The ISEP will be co-designed with Indigenous Australians, in consultation with key stakeholders.

Discussion paper

The NIAA welcomes stakeholders’ views on the Indigenous Skills and Employment Program and on any other relevant issues raised in this discussion paper. NIAA will use the submissions to the discussion paper to design the Program and to inform advice to the Government regarding stakeholder views on future investment in Indigenous-specific employment programs.

More details regarding submissions are available on Page 10 of the discussion paper.

Closing date for submissions is 10 September 2021

Email submissions to: ISEP@niaa.gov.au

Postal address: Employment Branch, National Indigenous Australians Agency, Charles Perkins House, GPO Box 2191 CANBERRA ACT 2601

Enquiries: ISEP@niaa.gov.au

Overview of changes

The Australian Government is committed to strong and sustained economic recovery, to create jobs and invest in our future industries and skills.

In the last ten years labour markets have fundamentally changed and NIAA’s employment programs need to evolve.

Mainstream employment services are undergoing transformational change, with the new employment services model to begin on 1 July 2022 and the Community Development Program is piloting changes in 2022, as also recently announced by Minister Wyatt.

The National Agreement on Closing the Gap commits the Government to a new way of working in partnership with Indigenous communities.

These changes present an exciting opportunity to develop a locally informed approach to supporting Indigenous employment, designed to respond to the distinct needs, strengths and interests of local Indigenous communities.

The ISEP will contribute to closing the gap in employment by supporting pathways to employment for Indigenous Australians.

You can read Minister Wyatt’s recent media release about the proposed new program.

ISEP program design

The ISEP will be co-designed with Indigenous Australians, in consultation with key stakeholders.

Engagement with Indigenous communities, employment and training providers, state and territory governments, industry bodies and other key stakeholders over 2021 will inform the final design of the Program.

The new program will be backed by evidence about local barriers and opportunities to employment and career advancement for Indigenous Australians.

It will build on the most successful elements of current programs, which include tailored and individualised support, such as mentoring; ensuring activities are delivered in a culturally appropriate way; vocational training and job specific skills provided in line with local workforce needs; and a guaranteed job prior to commencing training.

It will be flexible and responsive to local labour market conditions.

The type of investment will be informed by local knowledge, expertise and opportunities.

The ISEP will leverage other Commonwealth and state and territory government investment to support access by Indigenous Australians to skills acquisition and job opportunities.

The ISEP design will be based on the need to:

  • address specific barriers to employment at the regional and local levels;
  • work with local communities to identify existing and emerging employment opportunities;
  • be responsive to emerging regional labour market needs and opportunities for both job seekers and businesses;
  • target specific cohorts of Indigenous Australians based on data and evidence, supplemented with local knowledge and need; and
  • support employers to understand and realise the potential of the Indigenous workforce.

Timings

The ISEP will come in to effect on 1 July 2022, to align with the Government’s introduction of the new employment services model to replace jobactive and recently announced changes to the Community Development Program.

Existing Indigenous-specific employment programs - Vocational Training and Employment Centres (VTEC), Tailored Assistance Employment Grants (TAEG) and the Employment Parity Initiative - will wind down by 30 June 2022 (or the end of current grant agreements). There will no changes to current funding agreements.

There will be no impact on current participants under existing VTEC, TAEG or EPI projects, and participants will be able to complete their placements as intended.

Consultations

Engagement with Indigenous communities, employment and training providers, state and territory governments, industry bodies and other key stakeholders over 2021 will inform the final design of the Program. Further information, including venues and dates, will be available on this website shortly.

As a part of the consultation process a discussion paper has been made publicly available.

ISEP and the New Employment Services Model

The ISEP will be implemented from 1 July 2022, in line with the new employment services model.

Funding under the ISEP will be available where there is a demonstrated genuine gap or opportunity that Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) investment can appropriately address, and where there is no duplication with existing Government investment, including mainstream employment services. This includes consideration of whether the same activity is available to job seekers through the new employment services model (or through the Community Development Program in remote Australia).

More information about the new employment services model can be found on the Department of Education, Skills, and Employment website.

Further information

For more information about the development of the ISEP, you can contact the ISEP team at isep@niaa.gov.au.

If you are an existing VTEC, EPI or TAEG provider you can contact your contract manager for more information.

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