Just like it’s failed Remote Jobs and Communities Program, Labor’s partisan report into the successful Community Development Program is not accurate and does nothing to promote better employment outcomes in remote Australia.
Of the 46 organisations or individuals who appeared before the enquiry, only around 35 per cent were Indigenous organisations based in Community Development Program areas. Even more concerning, only one of the public hearings of the enquiry took place in a Community Development Program Area.
This lack of direct feedback is reflected in the findings of the report which is based on anecdotal reports rather than proper evidence – for example claims by Labor Senators that Indigenous communities will go hungry this Christmas despite there being no evidence of changes to the revenue of remote community stores.
It is disappointing that today’s report has ignored the success of the Community Development Program:
- An increase in attendance from under 7 per cent to over 70 per cent since the end of Labor’s Remote Jobs and Communities Program.
- Remote job seekers have been supported into around 20,000 jobs including a remarkable 72 per cent increase in the number of 13 week outcomes and an even more remarkable 227 per cent increase in the number of 26 week outcomes in comparison to Labor’s Remote Jobs and Communities Program.
- More local Indigenous organisations delivering the program with their community rather than the big mainstream non-Indigenous companies that former Minister Macklin forced on to the Remote Jobs and Communities Program.
The Government strongly believes that all Australians can make a contribution to their community and that the best form of welfare is practical support to find a job. This includes holding welfare recipients to account for turning up to their work for the dole activities and addressing the scourge of passive welfare.
Unfortunately, this report is another example of Labor’s approach to social policy – doing and saying what is needed to fend off Greens’ candidates in inner city seats rather than doing what remote communities want and need.
Instead of reading this deeply partisan and misleading report, I encourage those genuinely interested in learning more about the Community Development Program to read the Independent Australian National Audit Office report which found that the transition to the Community Development was largely effective and supported by an external review – https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/design-and-implementation-community-development-programme.
Or better yet, I encourage people to listen to the stories of the job seekers who have benefited from the training and work experience they needed to transition into work (for example see http://www.indigenous.gov.au/news-and-media/announcements/minister-scullion-cdp-participants-bring-ngukurr-community-closer-vital).
The Coalition Government has already committed to further reforms to the Community Development Program based on feedback from communities which called for a wages like payment, support for real jobs, more local control and more incentives to encourage job seekers to transition into work.
We will consider the recommendations of the report as part of these reforms and consult across Australia including with remote communities and Community Development Program providers and participants.
While Labor is intent on playing petty political games we are getting on with the job of making the CDP even more successful. To read the Remote Employment and Participation discussion paper which will inform future options for improving the CDP, visit www.pmc.gov.au/cdp