The Economic Participation Plan outlines the City of Whittlesea’s contribution towards vulnerable groups that do not have equal access to employment pathways and are more likely to be unemployed or under employed and face unacceptable barriers to economic participation. The priority groups identified in the Strong Local Economy Strategy include:
The City of Whittlesea has experienced a growth of 655 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (37 per cent) between the 2016 census (1,734) and 2021 (2,389). Both Doreen and Mernda experienced a growth of more than 50 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents.
As a result of intersecting historical, social, cultural, geographic and economic factors, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have, on average, lower employment rates than other Australians, are underrepresented in leadership roles and are paid less.
While there is an employment gap nationally between all Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, employment outcomes tend to be worse for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, who:
- Have substantially lower rates of workforce participation (51.5 per cent) than Indigenous men (65 per cent) and non- Indigenous women (59.2 per cent)
- Are paid less, on average, than Indigenous men, being over-represented in most of the lower weekly income brackets and under-represented in the highest income brackets.
The CALD community has a large presence in Whittlesea with 46.9 per cent of residents speak a language other than English at home and over 39 per cent of residents born overseas. The main languages spoken at home other than English (69.41 per cent), include Arabic (6 per cent), Macedonian, (5.3 per cent) Italian (4.59 per cent) and Punjabi (4.56 per cent).
CALD residents in the City of Whittlesea face a range of barriers and issues, this includes:
- Overseas qualifications generally not recognised
- Poor English language skills
- Lack of Australian workplace experience
- Financial hardship
- Insecure employment – hardest hit by COVID often in contract or casual jobs
- Racism and Discrimination.
The participation rate of people with disability (aged 15-64) in the City of Whittlesea is only 18.86 per cent compared to a municipal wide rate of 73 per cent and experience an unemployment rate of 16 per cent (more than double the
6 per cent unemployment rate across the Local Government area). The broader structural and systemic issues that most people with disability identify as the real barriers to finding and maintaining work (Olney & Devine 2022), include although not limited to:
- Discrimination in education and training, the job market and in workplaces
- A shortage of jobs that meet their diverse needs, capabilities and aspirations.
- Inaccessible public transport and
- Workforce disincentives, moving in and out of income support and maintaining access to concessions to cover extra costs of living.
Employing people with disability has many business benefits.
The Australian Human Rights Commission, IncludeAbility Report on the economic and business benefits of employing people with disability undertook a systematic review of 39 international studies showed four key improvements including:
The City of Whittlesea undertook research in 2018-20 on Gender Equity in Employment (February 2021) highlighting that some women in growth area suburbs trade off careers and financial independence with lower paid jobs closer to home due to caring responsibilities.
The combination of relatively higher wages for men and the fact that women are disproportionally the primary carers, contribute to both unemployment and underemployment of women.
The Gender Equity into Employment report highlighted that women in the City of Whittlesea (and Local Government Growth Areas more broadly) are more likely to:
- Be unemployed
- Work part time
- Earn less with a tertiary education
- Undertake unpaid childcare
- Rely on jobs closer to home.
Currently, young people (15-24) in the City of Whittlesea experience double the unemployment rate 13.46 per cent than the municipal wide rate of 6 per cent.
The impact of COVID-19 pandemic was significant on young people. While young people made up 14 per cent of the workforce, they bore 55 per cent of the job losses during the 2021 lockdown. It was found that young people on low incomes and those previously in casual work are facing rising unemployment, declining mental health and unprecedented interruptions to their education and lives.
The City of Whittlesea Mentor program (November 2022 Update) identified the following barriers faced by young people to employment:
- stress and anxiety
- lack of confidence at job interviews. Not having a full license. Lack of skills
- confidence in themselves to be able to perform well within a workplace
- having no idea if my skills were enough for this course
- vaccination, lack of experience
- not enough confidence
- inexperience and confidence.