Noel Pearson
Noel Pearson (image - Oscar Colman)

Noel Pearson proposes “A job guarantee for the Bottom Million” in his third ABC Boyer Lecture

In the third instalment of his thought-provoking ABC Boyer Lecture series, Noel Pearson examines the individual, community and societal structures required to empower Aboriginal communities and how a Voice will support them.

In this lecture, Pearson cites a 2017 Productivity Commission report which found three per cent of Australians were in income poverty continuously for at least the previous four years. They come from single parent families, the unemployed, people with disabilities and Indigenous Australians who were particularly likely to experience income poverty, deprivation and social exclusion.

“The Commission’s numbers are open to debate.  They are likely an underestimate. I propose this Bottom Million is caught in four traps: the trap of the natural rate of unemployment, the trap of the middle-class welfare service industries, the trap of the vice industries and the trap of voicelessness.” Pearson said.

“If a Voice is to be effective and meaningful, it must be about giving the Wik people a Voice, so that they can take better responsibility for their people. It must be about giving the Yolngu a Voice, so that they can be empowered to solve their own problems. It must be about giving the Yorta Yorta a voice. This must not be a top-down, socialist structure.”

Lecture three A job guarantee for the Bottom Million will air on ABC RN on Sunday 20 November at 9.30am AEDT as part of the Sunday Extra program.  The first two lectures from Noel Pearson’s ABC Boyer Lecture series are available on demand on ABC listen.

About Noel Pearson

Noel Pearson comes from the Guugu Yimidhirr community of Hope Vale on the Cape York Peninsula.

He is the Founder and Director of Strategy of the Cape York Partnership, a non-profit organisation that works to empower Indigenous families and communities in Cape York and Cairns to break the cycle of disadvantage.

He is Founder and Co-Chair of Good to Great Schools Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to support Australian education systems and communities to help their schools successfully deliver 21st century programs.

Pearson also co-founded the Cape York Land Council and helped to establish Apunipima Health Council, Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation and Indigenous Enterprise Partnerships.

He has served as a member of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians and the Referendum Council. The panel investigated changing the federal Constitution so that Australia’s Indigenous peoples would be recognised in it. The panel delivered its report, Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution, to then Prime Minister Julia Gillard in January 2012.

About the ABC Boyer Lectures

The ABC Boyer Lecture series, named for former ABC Chairman Sir Richard Boyer, are given each year by a prominent Australian to present critical ideas on major social, cultural, scientific or political issues.

Media Release – ABC

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