The Federal Budget has allocated $111 million to a new Remote Jobs Program to replace the controversial ‘work for the dole’ Community Development Program (CDP).
A 2019 government review of the program found 36 per cent of participants thought their communities were worse off under the scheme and in 2018, Namatjira MP Chansey Paech called the program “modern day slavery”.
The program required participants to engage in 25 hours of work for the dole a week or risk having their income support cut off.
A National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) factsheet on the new program says the Government “has heard what communities and stakeholders have said about the CDP”.
The Remote Jobs Program will be rolled out in 2023 after a co-design period and pilot programs run from late 2021, with locations for the pilot program announced in the coming months.
In a statement, Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said the co-design process is essential.
“We have seen over the last year how effective we can be when working in partnership and we are committed to continuing to deliver our investments with that strong local input, so together, we can rebuild our economy and guarantee the services that all Australians rely on,” he said.
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney called the CDP a “failure”.
“The Community Development Program has completely failed to deliver the economic opportunities for First Nations Australians that the Government said it would,” she said.
“It has been nothing more than punitive and discriminatory.”
Burney says there needs to be more information about the replacement program.
“Communities are anxious to see the detail of this replacement, of which is there is virtually nil,” she said.
“But we emphasise that there must be genuine consultation with First Nations communities in its design.”
The CDP will continue to operate in the short term, with an additional $84.9 million allocated for CDP providers to meet increased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the new program is being designed, work-for-the-dole requirements will be paused.
Jobseekers will still have to attend interviews, provider appointments, and meet job search requirements.
By Sarah Smit