NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the #Workforthedole Debate  #Election2019 Senator Nigel Scullion calls it returning to sit down money as Aboriginal leaders welcome Labor commitment to abolish discriminatory remote Work for the Dole Program

We welcome Labor’s focus on creating jobs and meeting the needs of remote communities, and its commitment to abolishing the existing program, which is harmful and discriminatory.

We are urging that the new program includes a firm funding commitment to support the creation of a substantial jobs package – this is vital for remote communities.

We welcome Labor’s commitment to work with First Nations people to co-design a new program and their recognition that our communities must be involved in decisions about policies that affect us.

Any scheme to replace CDP must be Aboriginal-led. We can’t have a continuation of the failed, top-down, bureaucratic approach that we have at the moment. We are looking to Labor to support the new program being delivered in an Aboriginal-led agency, not by the Canberra bureaucracy “

John Paterson, spokesperson for APO NT, said that it was critical that Labor follow through with a firm policy and funding commitment to ensure the creation of jobs and positive community development

Today’s revelations that the Labor Party will cut over $1 billion from the Indigenous Affairs portfolio and abolish the Community Development Program is an astonishing admission that Labor has no plans to improve life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia.

The Community Development Program is the continuation of almost 40 years of remote employment services and is a critical part of Government’s work in remote communities to engage adults in work and improve the circumstances of remote communities.”

Senator Nigel Scullion Indigenous Affairs Minister see full Press Release Part 2

Senator Dodson announced Labor would abolish the CDP, a program unions and welfare groups have argued is “blatantly discriminatory” because 83% of its 35,000 participants are Indigenous, and it imposes higher requirements than the work for the dole scheme does.

As a condition of income support, remote-area participants must engage in up to 25 hours of work activities a week.

Dodson said Labor would replace the CDP with a new program to be “co-designed” with First Nations people and restore the principle of “community control and direction”.

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) has welcomed the Australian Labor Party’s commitment to abolish the Government’s discriminatory ‘work for the dole’ program in remote communities.

In announcing the Labor Party’s commitment to scrapping the Community Development Program (CDP), Senator Pat Dodson said that it would be replaced with a new program that ‘creates jobs, meets community needs and delivers meaningful training and economic development’.

Dr Josie Douglas, Policy Manager at the Central Land Council warned that income inequality between remote communities and urban cities is growing.

“Poverty is growing in remote communities, and young people, in particular, are giving up. They are losing hope. That’s why Labor must build on its commitment to abolish CDP and commit to a jobs package for remote communities, including training for young people.”

“Aboriginal people have the solutions. We have developed a new model – the Fair Work and Strong Communities model – which would immediately reduce poverty in remote communities by 2.6% and cut the gap in employment rates between remote Aboriginal people and the rest of Australia by one third,” said Dr Douglas.

“This approach has the broad support of key Aboriginal organisations and national bodies.

“By listening to us and adopting our proposal, Labor could make an immediate difference to thousands of people and provide a platform for economic, social and cultural development in remote communities,” said Dr Douglas.

The Fair Work & Strong Communities Proposal has been endorsed by over 30 organisations around Australia and includes:

The proposed scheme

1. Creating immediate paid work

 Funding packages for the creation of 10,500 jobs. Packages cover 20 hours at minimum wage plus on-costs, which may be topped up by an employer.

 1,500 paid, six-month work experience places for young people.

 Repurposing the existing $25m entrepreneurship fund to support social enterprise development.

2. Indigenous control

 Indigenous control is embedded at the national, regional and local level. The program is managed by a national, Indigenous led body.

 Within broad program goals (like increased employment rates) local communities have significant input into local targets and scope to vary ‘default’ policies in relation to level of obligations and penalties.

3. Focus on long term positive impacts

 Program orientation changes from short-term results to achieving net impact through, over time, the creation of sustainable new jobs and skilling local people to take up jobs already in communities.

 Financial incentives to penalise participants are removed.

 People with substantial long-term health issues and/or disabilities are assigned to a stream in which they are supported to participate voluntarily, but not compelled.

Costs and impact of the scheme:

The current CDP costs over $300m per year (excludes income support costs).

Net cost of the Fair Work Strong Communities jobs package (12,000 new jobs) = $195.8m per annum. However, this amount would be significantly decreased by potential offsets from current program costs.

National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) has calculated the day one impacts of the proposed package as:

 poverty rate reduced from 22.7% to 20.1%

 Employment rate increases from 48.2% to 57.8% (employment rate gap reduces by one third)

Today’s revelations that the Labor Party will cut over $1 billion from the Indigenous Affairs portfolio and abolish the Community Development Program is an astonishing admission that Labor has no plans to improve life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia.

The Community Development Program is the continuation of almost 40 years of remote employment services and is a critical part of Government’s work in remote communities to engage adults in work and improve the circumstances of remote communities.

The Community Development Program has delivered great results:

The CDP has turned around community engagement and participation – from only 7 per cent at the end of Labor’s Remote Jobs and Communities Program to over 70 per cent today.

Over 28,000 jobs for remote job seekers

Over 9,600 long term employment outcomes

And the Government has already announced reforms to the Community Development Program to provide a fairer and simpler system, and move more people off welfare and into work. Changes include:

6,000 subsidised jobs across remote Australia

Ensuring communities are at the centre of CDP with increased local control and flexibility in the design and delivery of CDP

Support for remote business development

Changes to the provider payment model to focus on working closely with job seekers to improve engagement and address barriers to employment

Introduction of the Targeted Compliance Framework

Change hours of participation from a maximum of 25 hours per week to up to 20 hours per week.

Improved job seeker assessments, with local health workers able to provide the medical evidence required to review mutual obligation requirements.

Labor’s shocking lack of detail on this policy leaves a lot of uncertainty for residents of remote Australia.

Will the Labor Party introduce the mainstream jobactive program into remote Australia despite clear calls from Indigenous leaders and communities for the need for a program that is tailored to the needs of remote job seekers?

Will the Labor Party abandon the principle of mutual obligations and return communities to the misery of sit down money and passive welfare that fails children, women and families and causes dropping school attendance and community safety outcomes?

Who has the Labor Party consulted with in making this decision?

Has the Labor Party asked representative bodies and local Aboriginal CDP providers?  Has the Labor Party asked residents of remote communities?

Or has the Labor Party just made its decision based on the views of east coast academics and its union masters.

The Labor Party needs to come clean on its plans for remote Australia.

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