23.08.17 INQUIRY INTO FRAUGHT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM HEARS CONCERNS FROM ACROSS WA

INQUIRY INTO FRAUGHT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM HEARS CONCERNS FROM ACROSS WA

Representatives from community organisations and Aboriginal corporations from across Northern Western Australia have voiced concerns over the Government’s Community Development Program.

Today, The Senate Inquiry into the appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of the Community Development Program held a public hearing in Kalgoorlie.

Labor secured the inquiry into the fraught Community Development Program in March, after communities across the Northern Territory and Western Australia told us that this system leaves people in more debt, without food to feed their families, in rental arrears and feeling hopeless, struggling with an infuriating bureaucratic reporting process. 

These concerns were echoed in today’s hearings and documented in the Ngaanyatjarra Council’s submission to the inquiry, which describes CDP as a top down policy which has damaged the spirt of the Ngaanyatjarra lands.

‘We are making this submission to explain to you that we don’t want CDP.

The experience of CDP has been a very negative one.

The design of the CDP is explicitly based on an assumption that a regime of incentives and disincentives, if sufficiently punitive and applied over an extended period of time, will eventually teach Ngaanyatjarra people the value of regular work. History suggests there is no basis for this assumption. In practice, CDP requires adults to meet their income support obligations by undertaking work-like activities, often relatively meaningless tasks and under strict compliance arrangements. This is a hopeless vision of life on the Lands.

We now find ourselves in a situation where desert people cannot feed their families. People don't know what they can do to fix this problem. They feel frustrated and helpless. This is bad because people move to places that have a Centrelink office and many get into trouble when they're away from their own country.’

Earlier programs such as the CDEP had their problems, but at least people in communities were productively engaged in work that benefited their community.

The Inquiry is hearing evidence from representatives across the community including police, community organisations, service providers and Aboriginal organisations. While a range of opinions are being expressed, it is clear that people are searching for an alternative to the CDP that will work to strengthen their communities. Communities want to be involved in designing real work programs that benefit participants, their families and their communities.

We await the outcomes of the Finance and Public Administration References Committee's report but from the evidence the committee has received to date it is clear that a new direction for the design and delivery of work programs in remote communities is needed. This needs to be based on co-design and true consultation. 

WEDNESDAY, 23 AUGUST 2017

 

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