Tony Koch; 17/2/10
Mining magnate Andrew Forrest’s goal of finding jobs for 50,000 Aborigines is almost half complete. The Queensland government became the first state government to commit to Mr Forrest’s Australian Employment Covenant, offering 2800 employment opportunities to indigenous applicants in the public sector and adding to the 17,000 jobs employers throughout Australia have already made a commitment to provide. As the scheme continues to grow, Mr Forrest said the persistent criticism employers levelled at first-time indigenous workers – that they didn’t stick at the job – could be overcome by using a mentoring system. The Fortescue Metals Group chief executive, who is also chairman of the AEC, said his experiences from growing up with Aboriginal children on a cattle station, and more recently as an employer in mining ventures, had convinced him that a “one-on-one” system would work where the mentor was committed to ensuring the indigenous employee was properly trained.