Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion needs to face the reality that the CDP is harming, not helping communities. 

Minister Scullion used a report from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) into the Community Development Programme  (CDP) to justify the Government’s failed CDP Program.

He has wilfully claimed that the ANAO report states the introduction of the CDP has been a success.

This attempt to justify the failure of the CDP is misleading and inaccurate.

The CDP is not a success story – it is a failure that has led to more hardship and deeper poverty.

Minister Scullion has failed to recognise that The ANAO report points to severe administrative flaws, not to mention the fact the report does not go to the lived reality of Indigenous people suffering under the CDP.

Labor secured the Inquiry into the CDP after communities across the Northern Territory and Western Australia told us that they were trapped in a cycle of poverty,  waiting on the end of a phone line for hours and then giving up, feeling hopeless and still struggling with an infuriating bureaucratic reporting process. The ANAO report reveals serious mismanagement of the Program and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People are the ones who suffer.

Minister Scullion said “I am pleased that the report recognised the effective implementation of the CDP.” However, his pleasure flies in the face of indefensible flaws in the Program, contained in the independent report and revealed in the Australian today, including that:

  • Around 20 percent of all job service providers were deemed high or very high risk of fraud for misappropriating funds.
  • One job provider has been accused of claiming fees for dead people and people in prison to inflate numbers, as reported in the Australian today.
  • Job agencies have been accused of lying about attendance rates, and during fieldwork, the ANAO observed providers failed to accurately record attendance “including where time sheets were signed for an activity that was not delivered” when CDP providers are PAID according to self-reported data.
  • PM&C identified nine providers as having rorted the CDP in 2015, but referred only three to its fraud team for assessment.
  • Four months following the introduction of the CDP, only 37 percent of regions were on track to meet performance targets.
  • The CDP costs around $10,500 per participant, approximately double the cost of the CDP’s predecessor program, the RJCP, and three times as much as the Jobactive program.
  • There was minimal use of the Indigenous Enterprise Development funds to support the establishment of Indigenous business in CDP regions, resulting in a substantial underspend of allocated funding and a lack of available jobs for CDP participants.
  • PM&C’s evaluation strategy was developed late, some seven months after the CDP commenced and an overview of the evaluation strategy was not agreed by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs until 7 April 2016, reducing the ability to collect data that was capable of informing an evaluation of the CDP’s impacts.
  • The evaluation strategy was not peer reviewed by a reference group.

Using dead people to boost job numbers? Misappropriating funds? Lying about attendance rates? These criticisms are astounding. And they are only the administrative indicators of a deeply flawed and mismanaged program that is truly hurting Indigenous people in remote Australia. The forthcoming Senate report will tell stories shared by witnesses on the ground, where poor program design and delivery has led not to jobs, but to poverty, pain and hunger. Minister Scullion needs to face up to the reality that the CDP is harming, not helping communities.


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