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Deal to boost indigenous jobs in Redfern Waterloo - 15.07.2005

Peta Fitzgerald Southside News Issue 3/2005 page 10 reports. An agreement between the Redfern-Waterloo Authority (RWA) and the main construction union has been reached in a bid to improve employment for Redfern's indigenous community.

The Redfern-Waterloo Jobs Compact signed in May between the CFMEU and the authority aimed to increase employment rates among the indigenous community.


Specialist Aboriginal staff will oversee it.


"Under this 10-year agreement, the RWA and the CFMEU will work together with employers to improve the local community's job skills and create real employment opportunities," Minister for Redfern-Waterloo Frank Sartor said.


"The deal requires all contracts

for construction on state-owned land in Redfern-Waterloo to include tougher provisions aimed at increasing on-site work and training opportunities for locals, particularly indigenous residents."


"Every (construction) deal that comes through now will have to put an indigenous contract in," the CFMEU's indigenous liaison officer, Les Tobler said.


Its implementation will be actively monitored by the RWA and CFMEU members and successful tenderers could face penalties for failing to comply, said Mr Tobler, with the success of the compact dependant on the construction companies coming through with the jobs.


"As the CFMEU's indigenous liaison officer, until I retire, I'll be chasing (construction companies) to make sure they honour that agreement."


The agreement had received tremendous support from the indigenous community, Mr Tobler said.


"They're over the moon. It's something they want, they want to get out of the stereotypes of Redfern ... it's going to help solve some of the problems in the area."


REDwatch, the Redfern-Waterloo community group, however believes this agreement neglects the broader employment issues in the community.


"While we welcome this agreement, we think a lot more needs to be done," said REDwatch spokesman Geoff Turnbull.


"It's not to say that there isn't a requirement on the indigenous level, but there needs to be a

broader employment strategy." Senior Project Manager at the RWA, Denny Hall, stands behind the strong indigenous focus of the agreement.


"We are absolutely committed to growing Aboriginal employment opportunities," said Ms Hall, "the Compact is proof that we are serious about this."


And serious about providing the indigenous community with the appropriate training seen as crucial to the compact's success, she said.


"The CFMEU NSW has already put together an indigenous job ready training program which we've been running for 18 months," said CFMEU spokesman Tim Vollmer.


The training courses, described as culturally appropriate by

the union, are designed to "give indigenous kids from disadvantaged backgrounds the basic trade skills to work in a number of different sectors in the building industry" he said.


"This agreement now gives us a huge source of possible employment"


"It's what everyone's been waiting for," said Arnold Stuart, who completed a CFMEU training course six weeks ago and now works on the construction of the M7.


"The M7 is running ahead of schedule and will be finishing soon, so we've all been waiting for something new like this."


"The opportunities are here (with the Jobs Compact) if people are lucky enough to get on board."



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