The Gillard Labor Government will invest an additional $15.1 million to assist Ford employees in their transition to new employment following the company's recent announcement to close its Geelong and Broadmeadows plants by October 2016.
This support is in addition to the Commonwealth's commitment of $30 million for economic development and diversification in the local Geelong and North West Melbourne communities and $10 million for the Automotive New Markets Program.
The $15.1 million is also in addition to the existing $51.9 million Automotive Industry Structural Adjustment Program (AISAP) which provides automatic access to Ford employees to Stream 3 job services support.
$5 million will be immediately set aside from the National Workforce Development Fund for Auto Skills Australia, an Industry Skills Council, to coordinate labour adjustment activities, and to provide career advice services and training to supplement employment support services. The fund will also support communities to identify how they will respond to this significant adjustment in the local economy.
A further $5 million from future years’ NWDF allocations will be set aside for the future skills needs of the automotive sector should further assistance be required.
For the first time, the Gillard Government has established Geelong as a Priority Employment Area. This will bring the total number of Priority Employment Areas across the Nation to 21.
As a result, a Local Employment Coordinator will be appointed to the Geelong region Priority Employment Area, providing access to $200,000 in a Flexible Funding Pool to help workers transition into new work prior to or following the plant's closure.
Broadmeadows is already covered by the North Western Melbourne Priority Employment Area.
An Australian Jobs and Skills Expo will be held prior to 30 June 2014 in the new Priority Employment Area of Geelong at a cost of just over $200,000.
Four smaller, targeted Jobs Marts will be held where and when they are needed at a cost of up to $100,000 each.
These are practical steps that will help workers and their families.
The Gillard Government will also provide $470,000 in assistance to the Federation of Automotive Parts Manufacturers (FAPM) to support downstream businesses affected by Ford’s decision.
Labor's $51.9 million Automotive Industry Structural Adjustment Program (AISAP) not only provides workers with immediate access to intensive Stream 3 employment support but tailored, one-on-one intensive support and additional funding of $2,880 per person in an Employment Pathway Fund.
This Fund can be used to obtain work-related items such as clothing, safety equipment and licences or help with short-term travel and relocation costs when starting new jobs.
The Government is working closely with Ford to fast track this support, which is normally only provided once a redundancy letter has been received by the employee.
Labour Adjustment Officers funded under the AISAP will continue their hands on work in affected communities with an extension up to 30 June 2017.
Information sessions have been organised for workers in Geelong and Broadmeadows to ensure Ford workers know about the range of support available to them.
Any workers affected by Ford’s decision who would like to know more about any of these services can call the dedicated Ford workers’ hotline: 1800 269 564.
The $5.1 million Ford package announced today is supported by the AMWU and the company.