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Weekly round-up: Indigenous jobs, grants, faulty claims, and moaning bosses

By Kace O'Neill | |5 minute read

In this week’s round-up of HR news, the government has revealed a plan to boost Indigenous job support. Meanwhile, job agencies have been hit with penalties, and some are in disagreement over the “same job, same pay” laws.

Closing the gap

As reported by The Australian Financial Review, the government will move past the Abbott-era Indigenous employment program as it will introduce a remote scheme that it claims will create 3,000 jobs over three years for Indigenous Australians.


Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney stated the government will pledge a total of $707 million to replace the community development program. This will prioritise local decision making and improving conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The government will also spend $185 million on a new community jobs and business fund to give local and community businesses an avenue to apply for money for equipment and capital.

“This is about putting communities in the driver’s seat to create local jobs and businesses. Rates of unemployment in remote communities are unacceptable, and this is the first step in turning that around,” said Minister Burney.

Women to benefit from employment grants

The NSW government is also stepping up by making a new round of grants available to historically marginalised communities.

As discussed by Bendigo Advertiser, women who live outside of major cities, are Indigenous, veterans, or face other challenges of acquiring work opportunities will get a helping hand in the form of a government support program.

The program is focused on helping women overcome the hurdles of getting a job. NSW Minister for Women Jodie Harrison said: “By creating pathways into work and careers for women, it means they can have financial security and face life’s challenges with confidence.”

Organisations that have tailored programs aimed at removing barriers to women re-entering the workforce are eligible for grants between $100,000 and $250,000.

Applications for the grants will open on Monday (19 February), following a launch in 2023 that funded 13 projects and delivered 1,100 total hours of employment support and other forms of on-the-job training.

Job agencies caught out

Australian job agencies have been forced to give back more than $8.5 million in government payments after a big crackdown on faulty claims, as reported by The Guardian.

The employment services system provides funded “outcome payments” that give agencies a form of reimbursement for placing their clients into employment or courses, basically getting money back for helping jobseekers prepare for or gain employment.

Data obtained shows that in the past four financial years, the government has recovered $17,490,143 from employment services providers, with $8,558,253 of that recovered in 2022–23 alone. The breakdown is as follows.


  • 2019–20 – $2,083,765
  • 2020–21 – $3,710,522
  • 2021–21 – $3,137,603
  • 2022–23 – $8,558,253

The common reason for recovery was that the provider supplied “inadequate documentary evidence” when claiming the payments or had straight up made a wrongful claim.

Energy company not a fan of ‘same job, same pay’ and right to disconnect

BNN reports that Woodside Energy has called the “right to disconnect” a real challenge. The laws that will come into effect in six months contain no general prohibition on employers contacting staff after hours; however, employees can take their boss to the Fair Work Commission and seek orders to stop them from forcing them to respond to after-hours communications.

“If sending someone emails out of their working hours isn’t allowed, then that would be a real challenge,” said Woodside’s human resources head, Julie Fallon.

The $59 million oil and gas giant is also treading carefully to avoid breaching the “same job, same pay” laws that passed in late 2023.

“We’re going to have to make sure we’re really careful upfront in scoping our work. So that’s a lot of bureaucracy that’s not actually going to add anything to our productivity,” Ms Fallon said.

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.