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Community Development Program (CDP)


The current CDP model 

Under CDP, participants – the vast majority of whom are Indigenous – are required to work up to 25 hours per week and up to 46 weeks per year in return for income support. These requirements are substantially more onerous than those that apply to predominantly non-Indigenous people elsewhere. For example, under jobactive, Work for the Dole may only be required after one year of assistance, and then for fewer hours each week, for only six months of the year. Both providers and jobseekers have flexibility to select a form of mutual obligation activity that meets individual needs and improves employment prospects.

The current model requires substantial investment in administration and diverts resources from other activities. As a result, thousands of CDP participants are locked into work at a rate well below award rates, with little or no prospect of earning additional income or leaving income support.

APO NT believe that Indigenous community members and organisations must have substantial control over policy design and delivery and this control has declined under CDP.

The current design of the CDP does not address the real employment challenges facing remote communities including: lack of demand for labour; lack of required skills to take up available jobs and the health effects of poverty.  These are long term challenges and require long term investments, strengthening of capacity and inclusion of Indigenous people in decision making.

For further background information on CDP, read:

Australian Human Rights Commission. (2015). Social Justice & Native Title Report 2015.

Jobs Australia. (2016). What to do about CDP?

Kirrily Jordan & Lisa Fowkes. (2016). Job creation and income support in remote Indigenous Australia: Moving forward with a better system, CAEPR

Proposal for the establishment of a Remote Employment & Community Scheme

While there is no easy solution to the challenge of improving economic and social opportunity in remote communities, APO NT understands that the current CDP is doing substantial harm to communities without generating enough opportunity.  We believe it needs fundamental reform.

APO NT proposes that the current CDP be replaced by an alternative model that is place based, community driven, and establishes a framework for long term collaborative effort across governments, employers and Indigenous organisations to increase economic opportunities in remote communities.  Importantly, the proposed new Remote Development and Employment Scheme also seeks to increase the number of jobs in communities, drive community participation and development, and reduce the intrusion of the welfare system into people’s lives.

Our model would see a shift away from a focus on compliance and administration towards a community development and case management model aimed at achieving long-term employment and development outcomes.  The key elements of our model include:

  • paid employment at award wages for around 10,500 people;
  • the replacement of CDP providers with Remote Job Centres that have a focus on case management and support rather than administration and compliance;
  • an emphasis on local control, including local governance arrangements, and community plans;
  • supporting community enterprise development and stimulating new jobs;
  • ensuring those who remain on income-support (within the DHS system) are treated fairly, and ensuring greater community control over participant obligations and compliance;
  • better access to assessment processes and appropriate support for those with health and other personal issues;
  • increased youth engagement strategies, including the creation of a national pool of around 1500 paid work experience and training positions, similar to the former Green Corps;
  • an independent national indigenous-led body to manage the new program, and to ensure that it meets long term employment and community objectives.

APO NT consultation on the proposed scheme

APO NT has consulted widely on the alternative scheme, with input from Aboriginal organisations, current CDP providers, sub-contractors, local government bodies and also peak bodies, located in the Northern Territory and nationally. This has been a significant effort from APO NT from within existing resources. For more information on APO NT’s consultation and engagement with Government, see below:

APO NT CDP Forum – Communique December 2016

CDP letter to Minister Scullion with endorsement list

Endorsements for APO NT’s alternative model – as at 23 June 2017

CDP Senate Inquiry 2017

The Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee are currently conducting an inquiry into ‘The appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of the Community Development Program (CDP)’.

Written submissions were closed on 9 June 2017 and public hearings are due to commence in August. The first hearing will be held in Karlgoorlie, WA.

APO NT provided a submission to the Inquiry earlier this year.