Acknowledgement of Country

The Queensland Government respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands and seas from across Queensland. We pay our respects to the Elders past and present, for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the state.

A better understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures develops an enriched appreciation of Australia's cultural heritage and can lead to reconciliation. This is essential to the maturity of Australia as a nation and fundamental to the development of an Australian identity.

Paving the Way – the First Nations Training Strategy is the Queensland Government's plan to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' skills development and respond to local and community employment needs.

This $8.3 million strategy is a key commitment under the Queensland Government's Future Skills Fund which is focused on building the skills needed for the jobs of the future.

Minister Di Farmer

Paving the Way – the First Nations Training Strategy is an important step in changing how government works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities to develop and deliver training and skilling opportunities for the jobs of the future.

With the Queensland economy in a strong position, and the State ready to welcome the world through the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the need for a highly skilled workforce has never been more important. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' unique skills, knowledge and culture are playing a critical role in building this workforce, and driving continued economic growth in every Queensland community.

Paving the Way outlines a range of actions to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders' skills development, through training that will open up opportunities for employment and meet local, community and regional job needs.

It follows the Queensland Government's commitment through the Path to Treaty reforms to reframe our relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to deliver real change and real outcomes through a genuine partnership approach.

Paving the Way has been developed through nearly 12 months of open conversations across the State with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, local Indigenous community groups, community Elders, local Indigenous small businesses, non-Indigenous businesses and employers, training providers, schools, local councils, state and federal government agencies and key Indigenous governance groups.

I want to thank every stakeholder who participated, and provided valuable input by sharing their views, experiences and aspirations for the future.

These discussions highlighted the importance of community-led responses and empowering First Nations voices in decisions that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

Our consultation also confirmed that there is much more work to do to improve the transition from training to employment, and achieve equality with non-Indigenous Queenslanders in workforce participation. We must continue to strive to close the gap in social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders – acknowledging that this is a longer-term goal that requires ongoing commitment and endeavour by us all.

I recently released the Queensland Workforce Strategy 2022–2032 which highlights that by maximising workforce participation through diversity, and skills and training, employers will have access to a larger talent pool to address their workforce and skills needs. This includes the wealth of knowledge and skills held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which are critical to the strength and diversity of our communities.

Actions and initiatives under Paving the Way will help drive job opportunities through Indigenous-led training and workforce solutions; skills and training pathway opportunities and support that meet local workforce needs; and by building cultural awareness skills and competency in local workplaces.

Together, we will implement practical and workable actions that will make a real difference to individuals and communities and move us forward toward our shared goal to close the gap in training and employment outcomes, and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to achieve self-determination and create their own future.

The Honourable Di Farmer MP
Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development

Empowering First Nations Voices

The Queensland Government is building a stronger relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Through the Statement of Commitment (PDF, 947KB) for a reframed relationship, Path to Treaty and the Local Thriving Communities reform, the Government is building a reframed relationship that recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Queensland. This relationship is built on respect and focuses on self-determination with a strengths-based approach.

This new way of working together aims to deliver real change and outcomes. It is a genuine partnership with shared responsibility between the Queensland Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Paving the Way focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' participation in the economy through training and jobs. The Strategy aligns with the current Moving Ahead economic participation strategy, as well as the work to develop a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Economic Strategy to be released later in 2022.

Paving the Way – the First Nations Training Strategy will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' skills development and respond to local and community employment needs.

Our vision

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have strong skills and training pathways, and support that will lead to sustainable, local jobs and ensure participation in a stronger future for Queensland.

Achieving the vision

Paving the Way has 3 focus areas for action:

  1. Indigenous-led training and workforce solutions
  2. Skills and training pathway opportunities and support that meet local workforce needs
  3. Cultural awareness skills and competency.

Delivery of Paving the Way will include:

  • Increasing the outcomes of existing Queensland Government training programs and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Developing new targeted initiatives and support programs to increase training participation and completion, and sustainable job outcomes.

The Strategy and its actions has been informed through targeted consultation across Queensland. This included discussions with over 200 people through 11 face to face sessions, 1 roundtable and 4 online sessions.

Targeted community engagement

Consultation was held across Queensland to develop Paving the Way.

Led by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultation specialist the sessions engaged with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councils, community groups, businesses, industry groups and individuals.

This process provided an opportunity to listen to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It provided important insights into the challenges and opportunities within communities and regions, across businesses and industry sectors.

Input from Governance Groups

Targeted discussions were also held with key Governance groups.

The Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education and Training Committee provided advice on issues relating to pathways to post-school options including work, training and university for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business Innovation Reference Group provided advice on how to better support small business to build capability, and provide self-employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Consultation Roundtable

A Roundtable was hosted by the Minister for Employment and Small Business, and Minister for Training and Skills Development. This sought expert views from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on how to create more opportunities for their participation in training and skills for sustainable employment at a local and regional level.

Paving the Way will build on the Queensland Government's more than $1.2 billion annual investment to connect people to quality training and skills and prepare them for work now and in the future. Existing programs being delivered include:

Skilling Queenslanders for Work – Supports Queenslanders to gain the qualifications and skills needed to enter and stay in the workforce.

Back to Work – Provides incentive payments and other supports to employers who hire an eligible and previously unemployed Queenslander.

Free Apprenticeships and Free TAFE – Fully subsidised training in priority apprenticeship, traineeship and Certificate III qualifications for under 25s.

VET in Schools – Provides training courses to students while they are at school, and offers school-based paid apprenticeships and traineeships with an employer while studying for their Queensland Certificate of Education.

User Choice – Contributes to the cost of training and assessment for eligible Queensland apprentices and trainees.

Higher Level Skills – Assists individuals to gain the higher-level skills required to secure employment or career advancement in a priority industry or to transition to university.

Certificate 3 Guarantee – Helps individuals to complete their first post-school Certificate III level qualification to increase their skills.

Gateway to Industry Schools – Assists industry and schools to work together to provide students with industry relevant skills, knowledge and attributes for the workplace, which benefits local employers and communities.

Higher concessional government subsidies to enable Skills Assure Suppliers to reduce the co-contribution fee and/or provide increased learning support for the student.

Location loadings to support the costs of training delivery into country and remote areas of Queensland, and Cape York and Torres Strait communities in addition to the government subsidy for training.

Priority subsidy settings – under the User Choice Program, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants receive 100% of the government contribution for Priority Two or Priority Three qualifications.

Subsidies for specific vocational qualifications, including some with specific relevance for Indigenous Queenslanders such as the Certificate III in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts and the Certificate III in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care.

Read more targeted support details.

Focus areas

Paving the Way – the First Nations Training Strategy has 3 focus areas to support the Government's commitment.

Community consultation highlighted the importance of local decision making to ensure authentic and effective Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' representation.

Paving the Way recognises that skills and training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be more successful when solutions are developed locally and supported by the community.

Local structures currently supporting training and workforce outcomes include Regional Jobs Committees and the network of Department of Employment, Small Business and Training (DESBT) regional offices. The Local Thriving Communities local decision-making bodies will be engaged regarding the delivery of training and workforce solutions for their community.

Paving the Way will build on these structures to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities with a stronger voice.

Key actions are:

  • Deliver a new Indigenous Workforce and Skills Development Grant program to fund Indigenous designed and led projects that support or respond to local workforce and training needs.
  • Invest in new industry and community partnerships and approaches focussed on improving the participation and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Queensland, through the Workforce Connect Fund.

Community feedback emphasised the need for tailored and one-on-one support to help individuals better access and navigate the training system, particularly for those traditionally underrepresented in the workforce or needing additional assistance, such as women, people with disability and seniors. It also highlighted the need for additional support to address barriers to school to work transitions and completion of training.

The Queensland Government invests significantly to maximise opportunities for Queenslanders to participate in training and the workforce, through programs such as Skilling Queenslanders for Work, Back to Work, Free Apprenticeships and Free TAFE for under 25s, and the Certificate 3 Guarantee.

The Strategy will provide increased guidance and wrap around support so that individuals will be better placed to access training opportunities, and maximise job outcomes in their local community.

The Strategy will also foster partnership arrangements that create new opportunities for government and industry to be more responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

Indigenous councils will continue to be supported through the successful Local Government Association of Queensland Capacity Building for Remote Indigenous Communities initiative, which is helping to build capacity across their workforce and provide local residents with local jobs.

Key actions are:

  • Provide tailored support and information on navigating training and workforce opportunities and support.
  • Work with industry to deliver training support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to provide a supported pathway to completing higher level qualifications
  • with Skills Assure Suppliers for apprentices and trainees and the Certificate 3 Guarantee graduates.
  • Fund targeted projects to improve school to work transitions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
  • Partner with industry to provide opportunities to kick start or transition to a career in digital through the First Nations Digital Careers Program.
  • Align and leverage sector-specific training and workforce strategies to be more responsive and achieve greater efficiencies.
  • Extend funding support for a further three years for the Local Government Association of Queensland to build workforce capacity in remote Indigenous communities.

The need for targeted and culturally appropriate mentoring for Indigenous small businesses was a key theme that emerged from the community consultation.

Under Paving the Way, Indigenous mentors will provide one-on-one assistance to businesses in the early stages to build skills and capability. This will work alongside existing business services such as DESBT's Mentoring for Growth program and TAFE Queensland's One Business program.

Improving cultural awareness and competency through training and mentoring in places of employment was also an emerging theme. Establishing culturally safe workplaces is vital to support reconciliation and to maximise positive training and job outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

By building cultural competency, businesses benefit from the unique learning opportunities offered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' knowledge, as well as improving their ability to attract and retain a skilled and diverse workforce. This will contribute to their growth and productivity.

Key actions are:

  • Develop a Cultural Capability Toolkit to support small business employers' skills to establish culturally safe workplaces.
  • Deliver one-on-one mentoring for Indigenous businesses to increase capability and build business skills.
  • Connect Indigenous businesses with training, resources and support services in Far North Queensland through the Deadly Business 2032 initiative.

Find out more

To find out more about support available under the Strategy:

Phone: 1300 369 935
Visit: facebook.com/skillsforqld

Last updated 8 September 2022

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