Creating locally appropriate policy for remote communities: improving the government’s approach to remote employment and participation

Regional planning Rural and remote communities Labour market Labour supply Australia
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The Regional Australia Institute (the Institute) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s discussion paper: Remote Employment and Participation (Discussion Paper).

This discussion paper outlines three potential employment models for remote and very remote Australia which seek to grow the local labour market, provide more incentives to job seekers, give communities more control and greater decision-making, and improve the support available to job seekers so they can move from welfare to work.

Remote employment and participation approaches should recognise the diversity of remote labour markets, people and policy interactions which exist in remote communities. Place-based, flexible and adaptable measures which genuinely include local people in delivery are most appropriate to achieve this task.

This is because unemployment and employment opportunities are unequally distributed in remote and very remote communities. The nature of the isolated labour markets in these areas is different and disconnected from other parts of the country and should be treated so by government policy.

Currently, Prime Minister and Cabinet’s three proposed employment models present little differentiation from each other and previous approaches. A policy that’s design and delivery places greater attention on responding effectively to the local context of each remote community a policy that seeks to support and influence is likely to have greater impact than a centralised policy redesign.

The Institute proposes the following are further incorporated into the analysis of the policy challenge and final design of the policy response:

1. the nature of local labour markets,

2. creating flexible place-based policy to suit local contexts, and

3. providing genuine powers for local led delivery.

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