There is considerable evidence that the factors influencing Aboriginal employment differ from those affecting the general Australian population. This paper considers further evidence of the changes over time in Aboriginal employment as measured in the Censuses of 1971, 1976, 1981 and 1986. It asks two questions. First, has the Aboriginal population experienced different unemployment rates than the rest of the population? And second, has the industry mix of the Aboriginal population varied from that of the rest of the population?
The evidence presented shows that the importance of the agricultural industry as a source of Aboriginal employment declined markedly between 1971 and 1986 and publicly-funded industries became the major employers of Aboriginal people. Data on the position of Aborigines in the labour market since 1986 are extremely limited but the calculations we have made suggest that private sector employment for Aborigines has declined further between 1986 and 1991 despite the launch of the Aboriginal Employment Development Policy in 1986 and associated training programs focusing on private sector employment. We argue that the reliance on public sector funding has partially insulated the Aboriginal population from the effects of the current recession, but has left them with a high dependence on special Aboriginal programs and vulnerable to any sudden changes in policy.
ISBN: 0 7315 1357 6