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DSS advertises JET Program in video

To encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents to use the Jobs, Education and Training Program, DSS made a video featuring stories from customers and presented by prominent Aboriginal women.

JET is one way … for people … to get the right advice, to be given the confidence and personal information and personal contact with the JET Officer within the Social Security office …

Linda Burney for DSS, 1993
About the artefact

The Department of Social Security (DSS) introduced the Jobs, Education and Training (JET) Program in 1989. The program’s purpose was to help sole parents return to work.

Initially, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents weren’t using the program as much as DSS had hoped. To encourage them to use the program, DSS made this video in 1993. It showed how JET could help and urged parents to contact a JET Adviser.


Introducing the JET Program

The JET Program began in 1989, following recommendations from the Social Security Review in 1986. It aimed to help parents, especially mothers, enter the workforce.

The program gave eligible sole parents access to training and work, and customers could tailor training with a caseworker. The caseworkers could even help organise childcare.

JET Program clients

The video shows JET Advisers Mandy Ahmat and Audrey Lai explaining the program. They explain to viewers how they help customers find and attend work.

Still image from 'Small steps, new directions' video, showing Mandy Ahmat, JET Adviser, talking to an interviewer.
Mandy Ahmat JET Adviser for DSS

In the full version of the video, prominent Arrernte journalist Karla Grant (née Visser) talks to 2 JET Program clients. The video shows women who are confident going to work and are able to access childcare for their children. They say the JET program has helped them feel more independent. These interviews aren’t included here as the people shown weren’t able to give permissions.

Promotion by high-profile Aboriginal women

The video features brief promotions of JET from prominent Aboriginal women Rhoda Roberts and Linda Burney.

Rhoda Roberts, a Bundjalung woman, described JET as ‘like the key that’s opening the door’ for sole parents to get into the workforce. Roberts was a performer and broadcaster at the time. Roberts went on to become a writer and director and was the Head of Indigenous Programming at the Sydney Opera House from 2012 to 2021.

Still image from 'Small steps, new directions' video, showing Rhoda Roberts, from SBS Television, talking to the interviewer.
Rhoda Roberts from SBS in JET video for DSS

The video concludes with Linda Burney, a member of the Wiradjuri nation, talking about how JET gives personal service and the right advice. She explains how it provides a way for sole parents to access education, employment and training. At the time, she was President of the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group. In 2016, Burney became the first Aboriginal woman elected to Australia’s House of Representatives.

As well as using customer stories and high-profile Aboriginal women, the full video uses music from popular music group Yothu Yindi.

This video shows DSS specifically encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who were sole parents to engage with their services.

Source details

This video was edited to a short excerpt to only show people who gave their permission for use. The full video and original VHS are in the DSS Library.

Lorraine Randall’s report published in 1992 shows that Aboriginal sole parents in the Northern Territory hadn’t taken up the JET Program in the way the government had hoped. Targeted information campaigns were one of the suggestions Randall made to improve uptake.


Permission to include these excerpts was granted by Mandy Ahmat, the Hon. Linda Burney MP, Karla Grant, and Rhoda Roberts AO.


Department of Social Security (1993) Small steps, new directions: JET jobs, education and training for sole parents [video], Corporate Television Unit, Department of Social Security, Australian Government, Canberra.

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