Closing The Gap In Employment By 2018: Indigenous Vs Non-Indigenous Australians

Background of the Closing the Gap Initiative

Half the gap in employment by 2018 target is a government initiative in which the Australian government is trying to reduce the disadvantages among the indigenous communities of being unemployed as compared to the non-indigenous Australians. This is a very important target since research has linked unemployment to increased morality rates among children of indigenous communities as compared to non-indigenous Australians (Altman Biddle & Hunter, 2009).

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Employment is very important since it generates income that the indigenous communities can use to seek specialized treatment that has better outcome as opposed to their traditional and holistic approach to therapy. Education is the background to employment since it provides knowledge. The knowledge provided is also important in healthcare. This therefore means that this target is very important to the indigenous communities and the Australian government since increased rates of employment means a better economy to the country.

Closing the gap in employment by 21018 is not on track .There are different parameters that have been used to evaluate the target to establish if it is either on track or not. One such parameter is the employment rate among the indigenous communities between 15 and 64 years. This parameter is better known as the employment to population ratio. According to the national statistics in Australia, the rate of employment among the indigenous Australians has really dropped. As at 2006, the rate of employment was 48% while at 2016, it is 46.6% (Brereton & Parmenter, 2008).When compared to the employment rates among the non-indigenous Australians, there rate of employments has been stable at 72% during the same period. Since the rate of employment among the indigenous Australians has dropped, this means there has been a gap from 1.5% to 25.2% in the last decade. The increase in the gap of employment therefore means that the target is not on track.  

Closing the gap of employment by 2018 target is not on track as shown by the employment rates among states and territories in Australia. According to statistics in 2017, the only state that closing the gap is on track was New South Wales. Recent Census in 2016 also show that the rate of employment has significantly improved in New South Wales, Victoria and finally the Australian Capital Territory between 2006 and 2016 (, 2018).

Mining is one of the factors that has driven the disparity in employment rates among different states. The rate of employment among the states of Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern territory fell prominently between 2006 and 2016. 

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Parameters Used to Evaluate the Progress Towards the Target

The rate of unemployment is another important parameter that has been used to evaluate the progress of closing the gap target. This parameter estimates the number of people who are unemployed as a proportion of the number of people who are in the labor force as well. According to the recent statistics published in 2016,the rate of unemployment among the indigenous Australians was 18.4% while that among the non-indigenous communities was 6.8% (Gray, Hunter & Lohoar, 2012).This represents a disparity of 2.7 times. However, there was a slight improvement from 15.6% in 2006 and 17.2 in 2011. The participation rate is also important and this a comparison of the labor force and the overall working age population (Yap, & Biddle, 2010) .According to research ,the national indigenous participation rate was 57.1% in 2016 as compared to 77% for the non-indigenous Australians. 

Indigenous participation rates and unemployment rates 15-64 year olds  

A comparison of employment by gender has been used to evaluate the closing the gap target. From statistics, the rate of employment for indigenous women has increased to 44.8% in 2016 up from 43.2% in 2006 (Daly,2018).The male indigenous employment rates have on the other hand dropped by 4.5% between 2006 and 2016.Research has also established that the indigenous women are increasingly participating in employment with an increase to 51.1% in 2006 to 53.9% in 2016 ( 2018).On the other hand, the rate of employment among the indigenous men dropped from 63% to 60.45.This therefore implies that closing the gap in employment by 2018 is not on track.   

In attempts to achieve the set target of closing the gap in employment by 2018, there are some strategies that have been used. The Australian government has set up what we call Community Development Programs. This is one of the government’s remote employment as well as community development services and they have been commissioned in more than 60 regions (Vijayasingham, 2017). The objective of this program is to assist the indigenous job seekers develop work skills as well as experience. Research has established that so far the program has assisted more than 21,600 indigenous job seekers as from July 2015.

Vocational Training and Employment centers have been set up by the Australian government. The Australian government has set up many of the VTECs which are service providers that provide guaranteed jobs (Van Dijk, Kirk-Brown, Taylor, & Van der Mei, 2016). They then assist the job seekers get employment opportunities. According to research, 7,617 indigenous Australians have so far benefited from the VTECs as of December 2017.This will assist so much in achieving the target of closing the gap in employment by 2018.

Current State of Closing the Gap in Employment by 2018

Employment parity initiative have been implemented by the government. The aim of this initiative is to work with large employers in the country to increase the enrollment of indigenous Australians in their companies (Taylor, 2015). The progress has been phenomenal since as at December 2017, more than 12 large companies had so far been signed up to provide employment opportunities to more than 3,745 indigenous Australians (Fowler et al., 2018). This trend is quite promising and if the Australian government invests more in the EPIs, the target of closing the gap in employment by 2018 would be achieved easily.

Prison to work initiatives have also increased in Australia. This is an initiative that allows indigenous prisoners to be employed into different sectors. The government in the 2017-18 budget allocated $ 17.6 million towards the same. Besides, there is the Time to Work Employment Service that is expected to commence in 2018 (Daly & Gebremedhin, 2015).This initiative is projected to improve the chances of achieving the target of closing the gap in employment by 2018.Other initiatives that have been put in place include the jobs to indigenous rangers where the government has invested more than $70 million to offer support to indigenous rangers. At the moment, more than 2500 indigenous rangers have been employed and this is projected to increase further with improved government investment towards the same (Biddle, Taylor & Yap, 2009) .Finally, there is the building an indigenous workforce in the public sector where the government announced that 3% of the indigenous Australians be represented in each employment sector and by 2017, the indigenous representation had improved from 2.2 to 2.7 across the commonwealth public sector.

Despite the different strategies used by the government, I would still recommend other solutions. One of the solution is to implement the disability employment services. People with Disability are always discriminated yet they are also important within the society and they are in need of healthcare, education and employment so that they can carter for themselves (Cook & Whelldon, 2016). The Australian government should therefore set aside a kitty that can incorporate people with disability into employment. This will assist in closing the gap and also assist the people with disability to take care of themselves financially.


Closing the gap in employment by 2018 is a government initiative with the objective to eliminate and disadvantages in terms of employment among the indigenous Australians. Despite numerous efforts by the Australian government to bridge this gap, the target is not on track. There are different apparatus that have been used to demonstrate or illustrate why the target is not on track and they include employment in terms of gender, employment rates among different regions as well as the rate of employment among the productive age of 15-64 years. All this parameters have common statistics that demonstrate that there still exists a huge gap in terms of employment between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. In attempts to bridge this gap, there are different strategies that the Australian government has used and they include community development programs, Vocational training and employment centers and employment parity initiative. Employment plays a major role in the health well-being of individuals since it provides income to seek specialized treatment. The government should therefore act swiftly to ensure majority of the indigenous communities are employed to achieve the target of employment by 2018.  


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Biddle, N., Taylor, J., & Yap, M. (2009). Are the Gaps Closing?: Regional Trends and Forecasts of Indigenous Employment. Australian Journal of Labour Economics, 12(3), 263. ISSN: 1328-1143.

Brereton, D., & Parmenter, J. (2008). Indigenous employment in the Australian mining industry. Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law, 26(1), 66-90., doi: 10.1080/02646811.2008.11435178

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Fowler, A. C., Ewens, B., Vafeas, C., Delves, L., Hayward, C., Nannup, N., & Baum, G. (2018). Closing the gap: A whole of school approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inclusivity in higher education. Nurse Education in Practice, 30, 86-90. doi:10.1016/j.nepr.2018.04.001

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Taylor, J. (2015). Closing the Rhetoric-Reality Gap? Employees’ Perspective of Performance Management in the Australian Public Service. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 74(3), 336-353. doi:10.1111/1467-8500.12066

Van Dijk, P. A., Kirk-Brown, A. K., Taylor, B., & Van der Mei, I. (2016). Closing the gap: Longitudinal changes in employment for Australians with multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 23(10), 1415-1423. doi:10.1177/1352458516678934

Vijayasingham, L. (2017). Closing the gap on employment rates: Success stories pave the way for policy works-in-progress. Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 23(10), 1430-1431. doi:10.1177/1352458517701315

Yap, M., & Biddle, N. (2010). Gender Gaps in Indigenous Socioeconomic Outcomes: Australian Regional Comparisons and International Possibilities. International Indigenous Policy Journal, 1(2). doi:10.18584/iipj.2010.1.2.3