The Aboriginal Employment Development Policy (AEDP) aims to achieve economic equality between Indigenous and other Australians by the year 2000 via three goals: employment equality, income equality and commensurate levels of welfare dependence. Achieving employment equality, in statistical terms, for working-aged Indigenous Australians will require an increase in the employment rate from 27 percent of those aged 15-64 years to 63 percent. The relatively low labour force participation of Indigenous Australians will require a simultaneous policy focus. In 1991, only 57 percent of the working-age Indigenous population was in the formal labour market compared with 71 per cent of the total population. The achievement of income equality will require an increase in mean annual individual income by over 50 per cent. This paper addresses some of the issues which affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the labour market. Some possible options available to the union movement to assist in improving their performance in the formal labour market in a manner commensurate with broad AEDP goals, are canvassed. The particular focus here is on how unions can assist in increasing formal employment and attendant income levels for Indigenous Australians.
ISBN: 0 7315 1719 9