29.08.17 WHO EXACTLY IS MINISTER SCULLION CONSULTING WITH ON CDP?

WHO EXACTLY IS MINISTER SCULLION CONSULTING WITH ON CDP?

The Senate inquiry into the Community Development Program (CDP) has heard from NGOs, community members, Indigenous leaders and employment providers that they were not consulted by the Minister for Indigenous Affair about the CDP.

In May 2017, Minister Scullion announced that the government was undertaking consultation in relation to a new employment and participation model for remote Australia:

The Government  will  consult  with Indigenous  communities  and  stakeholders  on a  new employment  and  participation model  for  remote  Australia  to  deliver  better  engagement  for remote  job  seekers  and  a clear  pathway  to employment.

More than 3 months later, the Minister has delivered nothing more than vague comments at Garma. In hearings held in Kalgoorlie and Alice Springs, witnesses told the Finance and Public Administration References Committee that the Minister had not consulted with them. 

Testimony at the hearings demonstrated that communication with the Minister about changes to the CDP was the exception, not the rule.

No witnesses had been involved in any specific consultation process associated with the Minister's announced plan.

One high profile witness reported receiving a letter in June in which the Minister indicated his intention to consult in the future. This witness is still waiting for advice on when this process would commence. 

Another witness said the prospect of changes to the CDP was brought with no notice during a routine meeting with CDP providers, which meant participants were rushed and unable to properly represent their views to the Department.

None had received any information about what changes the Minister was looking to make.

This raises the uncomfortable question - who exactly is Nigel Scullion consulting with? Senator McAllister said: “Every time we look at a program run by Minister Scullion it turns out that he has decided to listen to his instincts rather than consult with the Indigenous community. And every time it has turned out badly.

“If the Minister had bothered to consult he would have heard that CDP is making things worse, not better.” 

Senator Dodson said: “The lack of community support and consultation around the implementation of the CDP has led to Aboriginal people’s sense of agency being destroyed. It is clear from the evidence we have heard that community members are looking for an alternative solution to the failed CDP and that communities do have ideas and potential solutions – they want to be involved in developing programs that benefit their families and communities.”

TUESDAY, 29 AUGUST 2017

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