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.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : #NACCHOagm2018 Delegates agree unanimously to motion that the #CDP is discriminatory and is causing significant harm, hardship , distress and they call on cross bench senators to reject the Bill in its entirety

” The National Association of Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services, in its submission, warned that extending the four-week payment cutoff penalty to CDP and requiring recipients to reapply would be much more difficult for people in remote areas who may have language barriers, lack access to a phone or have underlying cognitive or health impairments and will likely mean that Aboriginal people in CDP regions will have less access to income support payments than other Australians”.

The Australian 

 ” NACCHO is deeply concerned by the Community Development Program (CDP) and its impact on Aboriginal people living in remote areas or CDP regions. We believe that the CDP is discriminatory and is causing significant harm, hardship and distress to Aboriginal people across Australia. NACCHO does not support the CDP nor does it support the proposed Bill. We believe the proposed Bill will only worsen the impact of the current CDP.

The Senate must recognise the unanimous voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and reject this Bill.”

Background : Extracts from NACCHO submission  post 15 October Read in full

We haven’t come here to bash the government or criticise, we’ve come here with a solution and the solution is here and we’re willing to work with all government at all levels,” he said.

What it reminds me of is a modern day Wave Hill situation- where Aboriginal people were paid sugar, flour and tea,

Those sorts of conditions and that sort of wage offer and assistance for Aboriginal Australians should not be offered in this day and age.”

John Paterson, CEO of Aboriginal Peak Organizations said the current program is “not an effective piece of work” and claims it puts “so many breaches on Aboriginal people” 

Picture below speaking at Parliament House September 2018 see NITV SBS Article

Motion below by John Paterson on CDP to the NACCHO 2018 Conference, 1 Nov 2018

Moved: Tim Agius, Durri ACMS, Kempsey NSW

Seconded: Vicki O’Donnell, KAMS

Agreed unanimously.

That the NACCHO 2018 Conference endorses the following:

NACCHO member services are deeply concerned by the Community Development Program (CDP) and its impact on Aboriginal people living in remote areas or CDP regions.

We believe that the CDP is discriminatory and is causing significant harm, hardship and distress to CDP participants and their families and deepening poverty in communities.

We do not support the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Community Development Program) Bill 2018 (CDP Bill) currently before the Parliament. We believe the Bill will only worsen the impact of the current CDP.

In particular, the proposed application of the mainstream Targeted Compliance Framework (TCF) is inappropriate for remote community conditions and will result in a worsening of already unacceptable rates of serious breaches and penalties applied to participants and an increase in disengagement from the scheme.

Other proposed changes, such as reducing the number of hours that CDP participants must Work for the Dole and offering wage subsidies, can be achieved without the Bill.

We are heartened by the opposition to the Bill expressed by Labor and the Greens and the support for Aboriginal concerns expressed by cross bench members of the Senate.

We urge cross bench Senators to reject the Bill in its entirety.

We call for urgent and fundamental reform of the program to be achieved through direct engagement and collaboration with Aboriginal peak and community organisations.

We propose the Fair Work and Strong Communities scheme proposed by APO NT and a coalition of Aboriginal organisations and national peak bodies as the appropriate basis for this discussion.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : #Indigenous groups say work for the dole scheme racially discriminatory and “unhealthy “

“ Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (APONT ), and our members have received widespread concerns about the debilitating impacts that CDP is having on its participants, their families and communities.

Financial penalties were being imposed at an astonishing scale – causing families, including children, to go hungry.

Such consistent and strong concerns expressed by those at the coalface must be taken seriously and acted upon,

Onerous and discriminatory obligations applied to remote CDP work for the dole participants mean they have to do significantly more work than those in non-remote, mainly non-Indigenous majority areas, up to 670 hours more per year.”

The chief executive of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, John Paterson, said the program was causing significant harm to communities. He said financial penalties were being imposed at an astonishing scale – causing families, including children, to go hungry (see Guardian article in full below Part 2 )

In press conference picture below

  • John Paterson, CEO, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (APO NT)
  • David Ross, Director, Central Land Council (APO NT)
  • Rod Little, Co-Chair, National Congress
  • David Thompson, CEO, Jobs Australia
  • Ged Kearney, President, Australian Council of Trade Union
  • Maria Harvey, CEO, Tiwi Islands Training & Employment Board
  • Dickie Bedford, CEO, Marra Worra Worra

 

Part 1 Fair work and strong communities

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT Proposal for a Remote Development and Employment Scheme

NACCHO is one of the many organisations that has endorsed this scheme

Download the brochure and full list of organisations endorsing

RDES-Summary_online

All Australians expect to be treated with respect and to receive a fair wage for work. But the Australian Government is denying these basic rights to people in remote communities through its remote work for the Dole program – the “Community Development Programme”.

Around 84 per cent of those subject to this program are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Most people in remote communities have to do more work than people in non-remote non Indigenous majority areas for the same basic social security payment.

In some cases, up to 760 hours more per year.

There is less flexibility and people are paid far below the national minimum wage.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also being penalised more because of the onerous compliance conditions.

In many cases, people are receiving a basic social security payment for work they should be employed to do.

The Government’s program is strangling genuine job opportunities in remote communities.

The Government’s remote Work for the Dole program is racially discriminatory and must be abandoned. Better outcomes will be achieved if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are given the opportunity to determine their own priorities and gain greater control over their own lives.

A Fair Wage for Work

There is an opportunity for the Australian government to meaningfully partner with remote communities, rather than impose a “one size fits all” model from Canberra.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities want to take up the reins and drive job creation and community development initiatives.

Remote communities need a program that sees people employed to work on projects the community needs.

And to do so with decent pay and conditions, and the right to earn more for extra effort. The current program keeps people in the welfare system and excessive penalties see people just disengage. It provides no reward for effort and does not address the need to support people into the workforce.

Remote communities need a program that encourages school leavers to move straight into employment or training.

Not one that leaves young people trapped in a welfare cycle or disengaged.

Tailored community-led approaches are needed that reflect the diverse cultural, economic and social aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the realities of the remote job market.

A Fair and Positive Scheme for waged work and strengthening communities

Five Aboriginal organisations in the Northern Territory, working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remote service providers, have developed a new, fair and positive model for job creation and community building – the Remote Development and Employment Scheme.

The Scheme will see people placed into part time work with award wages and conditions.

People will be protected by the workplace rights so many Australians take for granted. It would reduce the role that the welfare system plays in people lives. It will see more time and money spent creating new opportunities for jobs, enterprise and community development and less on pointless administration.

The Scheme is a place-based and community-driven model.

It will establish long term collaboration across governments, employers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to increase opportunities in remote communities.

Critically, the Scheme provides incentives to encourage people into work, training and other activities, rather than punishing people already struggling to comply.

Keys features of the Remote Development and Employment Scheme :

  • Establish a wages fund to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other local organisations to create 10,500 part time jobs on award wages and conditions, working on services and projects important to their communities, with the ability to “top up” these wages from other funds when extra work is done.
  • Create 1,500 paid work experience and training places for young people, supported by locally driven youth development strategies.
  • Remove the discriminatory requirement for people in remote communities who remain on social security payments to work more hours than people in non- remote areas.
  • Create Remote Job Centres, with local governance bodies, focused on long term support to help people get into work, stay in work, and progress into better jobs based on their skills and aspirations.
  • Retain activity obligations for people who can work and receive social security but aren’t in a job. Obligations will be based on their capabilities and the needs and views of communities.
  • Support people with disabilities and family responsibilities to meet their gaols and contribute to their communities in a manner appropriate to their capabilities and aspirations.
  • Maintain and improve access to government services in remote communities, including Centrelink, and help people with disabilities access the right payment through the support of Remote Job Centres.
  • Ensure the Scheme is managed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through shared learning and evidence, by establishing an independent body with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led board.

Part 2 from The Guardian

Indigenous groups say work for the dole scheme racially discriminatory

An alliance of Indigenous groups has called the government’s remote work for the dole scheme a racially discriminatory, onerous and debilitating program that is causing children to go hungry.

The community development program was introduced in 2015, aiming to reduce welfare dependency in rural and remote areas.

The scheme relies heavily on private job service providers, and places more onerous requirements on jobseekers, who are required to work or engage in related activities for 25 hours a week across 46 weeks of the year.

Its 35,000 participants, who are 83% Indigenous, earn about $11 an hour, and those who fail to meet their obligations face financial penalties.

Witnesses told a Senate inquiry on Friday that a lack of job opportunities in remote communities made it unworkable and impractical.

Participants have been left to engage in “activity for activity’s sake” with little prospect for learning new skills or gaining a job.

If they fail to comply with rigid requirements, jobseekers face financial punishment. The government issued 35,122 financial penalties in the final quarter of last year, mostly through no show no pay penalties, usually of about $53.

An Australian National University study showed Indigenous people were 27 times more likely to be penalised by a loss of income than those on a similar program in a largely white area.

On Friday the Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (Apont), an alliance of five groups, gave evidence to a Senate inquiry into the program.

One of the members, the chief executive of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, John Paterson, said the program was causing significant harm to communities. He said financial penalties were being imposed at an astonishing scale – causing families, including children, to go hungry.

“Apont and our members have received widespread concerns about the debilitating impacts that CDP is having on its participants, their families and communities. Such consistent and strong concerns expressed by those at the coalface must be taken seriously and acted upon,” Paterson said.

“Onerous and discriminatory obligations applied to remote CDP work for the dole participants mean they have to do significantly more work than those in non-remote, mainly non-Indigenous majority areas, up to 670 hours more per year.”

Apont, which was created to end the top-down approach of Indigenous policy, has proposed a new model, which focuses on increasing jobs, boosting community development, and lessening the welfare system’s intrusion into people’s lives.

“The CDP is racially discriminatory, and Apont believes it must be abandoned. In seeking this we are not just coming here armed with criticisms, but with a solution, an alternative.”

Cassandra Goldie, the chief executive of the Australian council of social service (Acoss), said the significant resources being spent on the CDP – about $268m in 2015-16 – would be better directed to creating employment in rural communities.

“When the term ‘welfare dependency’ is used, it’s often understood that it’s the social security payment that’s the problem,” Goldie said.

“But … the very important task of generating local employment, real employment opportunities, that is where the significant capabilities of the commonwealth, institutionally, should be coming in behind the deep desire by Atsi [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander] leadership, and also Indigenous people locally, to drive this agenda,” she said.

That was a position backed by non-profit job service providers, represented by the chief executive of Jobs Australia, David Thompson. “There’s been nothing done, nothing of any significant note, to actually increase the stock of jobs in those communities,” he said.

The Department of Social Services was questioned about why it imposed stricter requirements on participants of the CDP.

Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy asked, “If there are less jobs in a remote and rural region and less opportunities, why would there be a higher expectation of the hours?”

The DSS’s Bronwyn Field said the government had heard significant concerns from community leaders about sit-down welfare. To resolve that, it had decided daily activities from participants would be required.

“The government, when they started consultation prior to introducing the CDP, spent a lot of time with communities. One of the clear pieces of feedback was the fact that many Indigenous community leaders were concerned about people … doing sit-down welfare,” Field said.

McCarthy responded, “So you’re saying that was a result of government consultations to have those hours – 25 in the community, and 15 in town?”