Northern Territory

Jul 1, 2009

Hope and concern jostle as times change for CDEPs

The East Kimberley CDEP is bracing for the awkward fallout of change, writes Kayt Davies.

There are cheery posters around the door of the East Kimberley Community Development Employment Projects Program (EK CDEP) office featuring smiling cartoon people saying “CDEP is changing on July 1: Ask Us for Details”.

The posters refer to the federal $202.4 million promised over the next five years to reform CDEP and the Indigenous Employment Program (IEP).

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One thought on “Hope and concern jostle as times change for CDEPs

  1. Marion Scrymgour

    See my comments attached.

    In the lead-up to the last Federal election in November 2007, there were very few points of difference between the policy position of the Coalition and the policy position of the Australian Labor Party in relation to the diverse package of “measures” called the “Intervention” (and now the “Emergency Response”). One of those points of difference was in respect of CDEP. Labor said it would keep CDEP, although with modifications. The message that was delivered to Aboriginal CDEP workers out bush during the election campaign emphasised the “keeping” and didn’t go into detail about the “modifications”. Most people thought that the modifications would be minor, and no-one imagined that the real effect and goal of the changes to CDEP would be the phasing out of CDEP altogether.

    But that appears to be exactly what is happening now. Organisations which have built up successful programs and enterprises enabling them to pay real wages made up of a CDEP component and a top-up component have been told to prepare for three years of decreasing CDEP funding, in some cases reducing to as little as 10% in the third year. Workers who have been receiving a combined wage would have to be “transitioned” to a Jobstart allowance or other welfare payment (no top-up allowed).

    Employer organisations have been given little, if any, information as to whether Government assistance would be forthcoming in relation to the meeting of employer obligations in respect of redundancy entitlements. The notion that small businesses or other non-subsidised employment opportunities are suddenly going to materialise and rescue all the abandoned CDEP workers within 3 years is ludicrous (especially in the case of workers residing on homeland communities).

    The end of the financial year is almost upon us. Minister Macklin needs to provide an urgent explanation to Aboriginal Territorians on CDEP wages why she is driving a stake through the heart of a program her party went to the last election saying it would keep.

    MARION SCRYMGOUR
    INDEPENDENT MEMBER FOR ARAFURA

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