A trial program for job seekers to replace the controversial “Work for the Dole” initiative will focus on participants in remote locations, rewarding those in “work-like” positions with additional payments up to. go up to $ 190.
- The replacement program will be rolled out nationally in 2023
- A community in the central desert region of WA reached an agreement with the government on the previous program
- Community leaders say they are optimistic about the government’s desire to create a fairer system
Five regions across the country will participate in the federal government’s Remote Engagement Program, which would replace the current Community Development Program (CDP).
The CDP system, sometimes referred to as “Work for the Dole,” required social assistance recipients in remote communities to participate in employment, training, or community programs, with penalties applied to those who did not meet the requirements. requirements.
The new remote engagement program will be voluntary and reward participants with an additional payment.
Pilot areas include the Mid-West region and the lands of Ngaanyatjarra in Western Australia, Eyre in South Australia, Barkly in the Northern Territory and Palm Island in Queensland.
The government plans to roll out the system to remote communities across the country in 2023.
Indigenous community to resolve CDP racial discrimination complaint
Damian McLean is the chairman of Ngaanyatjarraku County in the Central Desert region of Western Australia, one of the pilot areas of the new system.
Mr McLean said the old CDP system was doing more harm than good.
“There was a period when, to put it simply, the government promulgated the idea that all problems in native affairs were only the result of the corrosive effects of passive welfare on generations of native people,” did he declare.
The community of Ngaanyatjarra recently announced a proposed settlement in their lawsuit against the federal government.
He claimed that the CDP system violated the law on racial discrimination.
“People had to do a lot more to access income support than in the wider community,” said McLean.
“This resulted in very severe penalties against a very disproportionate number of people participating in the program.”
“In this area that made people who didn’t have a lot of money pay over a million dollars in penalties, they didn’t really understand what the welfare reform agenda was.”
Punitive approach to abandoned social assistance
McLean said he was optimistic about the government’s change in approach.
“The policy that said all solutions had to be found in harsh forms of welfare reform, punitive forms of welfare reform, has been abandoned in favor of actually trying to examine what the problems and work towards useful and positive solutions within communities, ”he said.
“The indications we have heard from the government on this matter are that there is a lot of goodwill and a much greater openness to consider our particular circumstances.”
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston declined to comment on the Ngaanyatjarra community’s legal claim, but said the government would never seek to implement a program with racially discriminatory impacts.
The minister said the government was focused on creating a solution that took into account the unique circumstances of distant Australians.
“We will continue, through the Ministry of Native Affairs, to work with the communities to put in place something that works. “
Patricia Riley is the President of the Pandanus Park Indigenous Community in the Kimberley Region.
Ms. Riley was equally optimistic about the remote engagement program.
“This is great news that we are hearing because we have been suffering for a very long time, especially remote communities,” Ms. Riley said.
She was also critical of the CDP system.
“There is nothing that has been developed in our communities, and therefore funding has been allocated to those service providers that were not functioning properly,” Ms. Riley said.
She said she hoped the new system would solve the job shortage in many remote communities.
“I’m looking to make changes to see things develop and see our community become a healthier community and an environment where everyone is motivated and active and experiences both people and community,” said Ms. Riley said.
Labor say program is ‘CDP by another name’
But Shadow Minister of Social Services and Indigenous Australians Linda Burney told parliament on Monday that the government’s new program was “just another job for the allowance program.” CDP under another name ”.
“The government once again missed an opportunity and offered parliament minor adjustments to a major problem,” Ms. Burney said.
“In addition to a lack of real jobs, there is a lack of adequate housing and access to essential services. This bill will do nothing to meet the challenges. “
The Labor MP told parliament that although her party had doubts about the legislation, it would support the bill as the extra payments would benefit participants.
“Because the situation in remote indigenous communities has become so dire, Labor will not oppose the passage of this bill,” she said.