Revitalised program to get Cairns region residents Back to Work

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

The Palaszczuk Government’s revitalised $140 million Back to Work employment program that will support thousands of Queenslanders to get – and keep – jobs is now open for applications.

The program has already helped nearly 3,500 people across the Cairns region into work.

Minister for Employment and Small Business Di Farmer said the refreshed program, unveiled in this year’s State Budget, will provide greater access to on-the-ground support for employers and disadvantaged job seekers.

“The Palaszczuk Government put investing in skills and backing small business at the heart of our COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan because we believe wherever you are in Queensland, you deserve the chance to get a good job,” Minister Farmer said.

“We fund these job creating initiatives not only because they provide vital career opportunities to Queenslanders, but because they help small businesses too: over 80% of employers benefiting from Back to Work are small businesses.

“Across the state small businesses are telling me that trying to get people to fill the jobs they have is a major challenge.

“Since 2016, the Back to Work program has seen more than 25,500 people get into work because of the assistance provided to more than 12,000 employers.”

Member for Cairns, Michael Healy, said Back to Work had made a big difference.

“Since 2016 over $25 million has helped 2490 people get jobs in 1,009 businesses in the Cairns electorate,” Mr Healy said.

“That’s a huge investment and it’s transforming people’s lives.

“Back to Work will also give businesses the confidence to take a chance on the new staff they need to grow, and I am so pleased the Palaszczuk Government is making this $140 million investment.

“This program helps all Queenslanders, but I especially welcome the extra focus on young people.”

Speaker of the Queensland Parliament and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said the Back to Work program will include additional support for employers and job seekers to support long-term and sustainable employment.

“The focus will be on those job seekers who experience significant disadvantage in the labour market, who often require more intensive support to find a job,” Mr Pitt said.

“There’ll be Back to Work Support payments of up to $15,000 to eligible businesses who employ an eligible job seeker including the long term unemployed, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person or someone with disability, and there’ll be a $20,000 Youth Boost payment for eligible businesses to employ an eligible Queenslander aged between 15- 25.

“These payments will create genuine, long-term employment outcomes.

“We’ve seen more than $5 million invested in Mulgrave since 2016, and that’s helped 440 people get jobs in 239 businesses, so I can’t wait to see what happens over the next four years.”

Member for Barron River, Craig Crawford, said in addition to the financial employer incentives, a new range of intensive support for both job seekers, employers and their employees will be available.

“There have been a number of changes in response to specific feedback the Palaszczuk Government received after speaking with thousands of businesses at the Small Business Roadshow earlier this year,” Mr Crawford said.

“There are also more elements to the program – including a range of intensive support to ensure both job seekers and businesses have what they need to succeed.

“This wraparound support will not only help businesses recruit workers, but, vitally, to retain them too.

“With over 625 people in Barron River getting jobs at 334 businesses thanks to more than $6.7 million being invested since 2016, I know that Back to Work is having a big impact.”

Cairns business, Seagull Electrical, has hired three staff members through the Back to Work program.

Business owner Patty Whitcher said Back to Work has really helped her business, and her latest Back to Work employee, Joey, is the best apprentice the business has had.

“The guys do a lot of remote work and it’s hard to find people who are willing to do a lot of travel all the time,” Patty said.

“But Joey’s just brilliant. He is hard working and is able to engage with the remote communities that he visits.

“He had been working on fishing boats but Back to Work helped him to gain the apprenticeship he wanted and allowed Seagull Electrical to support him in that dream.

“This month marks his 12 month anniversary with the company.”

The support on offer includes flexible approaches to provide employers and job seekers with the assistance and skills to successfully navigate job outcomes. The new approach will include utilising short courses, screening tools and workplace adjustments through the program’s network of support officers.

The application cap on employers reset to zero on 1 July 2021. This means an eligible employer may make a further four applications under the revitalised Back to Work program.

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