The Federal and NSW Governments have announced a package of measures to assist the Illawarra region, recently affected by BlueScope Steel’s decision to restructure its manufacturing operations.
About 800 direct job losses are expected in the Illawarra and other job losses may flow-on from BlueScope Steel’s decision.
To help secure the future of the region, a $30 million Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund has been created.
The Fund will be made up of contributions from the Australian Government ($20 million), the NSW Government ($5 million) and BlueScope Steel ($5 million).
It will operate on the basis of co-investment with the private sector. The Fund will focus on creating innovative high-skilled jobs, mainly in manufacturing, and strengthen the capacity of firms and individuals to take advantage of new opportunities.
It will help the region by stimulating investment and diversifying the local economy.
In addition to these measures, the Australian Government will establish a working group, chaired by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) Secretary Dr Don Russell, to co-ordinate a whole of government response, and a taskforce, involving the NSW Government and local stakeholders to ensure effort is focused on the specific needs of the region.
As well as the Fund, the Australian Government will provide immediate assistance to workers in the Illawarra. A job support package will be provided through the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, including accelerated access to support services.
DIISR will prioritise the delivery of Enterprise Connect services to the Illawarra region to assist other businesses affected by this decision.
BlueScope Steel has indicated that all employees’ entitlements will be met and will continue to work closely with the Federal and State governments.