Thursday, July 29, 2010

Aborigines need hand into work: Twiggy - AAP - Fairfax Media - 29th July 2010

Mining magnate Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest has called on politicians of all persuasions to help indigenous people get a start in the workforce.

The Fortescue Metals CEO on Thursday said he wasn't a bleeding heart, and skilling-up indigenous people made good business sense.

One of Australia's richest men, Mr Forrest said indigenous people didn't need more welfare money - but they do need real leadership.

"The government really needs to move itself along and say 'OK, welfare really hasn't worked'," he said in Sydney on Thursday.

Mr Forrest was speaking on the panel of an indigenous employment forum, organised by action group GenerationOne, of which he is the founder.

Employment is the key to ending indigenous disparity, he said.

"If the government encourages industries which can really make a difference, and yes it is mining, but it's also construction, it's also hospitality, it's also tourism.

"If they encourage those industries to deliver the training themselves (then) other companies ... will have the faith to continue the employment."

He added that the government would need to step up and provide funding or subsidise the costs of training indigenous employees.

Deputy Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia, Melinda Cliento, also on the GenerationOne panel, said standards needed to be lifted so indigenous children didn't leave school and go into unemployment.

"My really strong view is that we have to make sure that we don't have future lost generations," Mr Cliento said.

"We've got a huge pool of people who are unemployed at the moment. (We need) to stop the flow into that unemployment."

Mr Forrest said it was also in the interest of Australian businesses to employ indigenous people.

"I'm not doing this because I'm a philanthropist or because I've got a bleeding heart. I'm doing this essentially because it's great for business," he said.

"The more business grows, the morale of your people, the culture deepens of your workforce - you become a more valuable company." (Credit: Fairfax Media - AAP)

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