The Budget announced the end of the Community Development Program (CDP), the “work-for-the-dole” program in remote Australia. Most CDP participants are Indigenous, and Australia Institute research in 2018 found that a CDP participant is more than 25 times more likely to receive a penalty than a participant in urban Australia’s Jobactive program and 55 times more likely to receive a serious penalty.
The CDP scheme has been described as “racially discriminating, punitive, ineffective and expensive”.
Given this, it is good to hear that some “mutual obligation” requirements (the source of penalties) are being suspended and the CDP will eventually be replaced.
However, designing a better system will require the Government to take responsibility for the lack of jobs in rural areas instead of blaming it on those out of work. The new scheme should respect Indigenous Australians and empower them with the skills and training they need and want instead of treating them as a problem to be managed. A good start would be to put more cash in the hands of jobseekers for them to spend on what they need to make ends meet.