CDP Discussion Paper & Senate Inquiry Report Released

Last week was a big one for CDP providers, with a provider meeting in Perth, a new discussion paper on the future of remote employment services, and the handing down of the Senate inquiry report. 

At the Perth meeting, the long-expected news that good providers would get a 12-month extension finally arrived. 

Also at the meeting, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion announced the start of formal consultations on a new remote employment and participation model, and released a Discussion Paper.  The sector has been waiting patiently for this announcement since it had been signalled at Budget time back in May. 

Discussion Paper

The Discussion Paper canvasses three options for a future model:

  1. New Wage-Based Model – This option streams participants into three tiers of service according to their work capacity.  The highest tier involves an unknown number of subsidised paid jobs for Indigenous participants, capped at a maximum length of 2 years.  The middle tier involves providers paying income support on an hourly basis to participants undertaking activities, like the CDP 2 option below. 
  2. CDP 2 – This option reflects the Minister’s previous intentions to have providers paying income support on a weekly basis, calculated upon hourly attendance at Work for the Dole, and referred to as “CDP 2”.  This approach was outlined in the 2015 CDP Bill that lapsed in May 2016 prior to the last election, but which was probably also never going to get past the Senate anyway. 
  3. Community Development Programme (CDP) with improvements – such as more flexibility around requirements and community control, to address concerns about rigid attendance rules and application of penalties. 

Jobs Australia has previously endorsed the APO NT model, which is not presented as an option in the Discussion Paper.  Like option 1 above it involves 3 tiers, but it commits to 10,500 jobs on award wages, covering around 30% of the CDP caseload, and with DHS largely retaining its existing role. 

Submissions to the consultation paper close on 9 February 2018.  Jobs Australia has written to the Minister to request an extension of at least another month, as the current deadline is too short to allow for meaningful and comprehensive consultation, particularly so since the period covers a time of cultural business in many communities, the Christmas shutdown period and the wet season.   A copy of the letter is attached below. 

Jobs Australia will be conducting a teleconference on the Discussion Paper on Wednesday 10 January at 1pm AEDT.  More information will be sent to providers.  

Senate Inquiry Report

The day after the Discussion Paper, the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee released its long-anticipated report on the “Appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of the Community Development Program (CDP)”. 

The committee found that CDP can’t and should not continue in its current form.  The report’s scathing criticisms of CDP included:

  • A complete and unacceptable lack of consultation and engagement by the government with stakeholders in the design and implementation of CDP
  • Heavy-handed financial penalties pushing people and communities further into poverty, and leading to an upsurge in crime and other social issues, and
  • The program’s focus on attendance at activities instead of helping people become job-ready and helping communities to develop.

The report’s 22 recommendations included:

  • Making the compliance and penalty regime in CDP no more onerous than for other income support recipients
  • Adjusting CDP requirements so that participants are able to meet them for the majority of the time
  • A dedicated Centrelink telephone service for CDP participants
  • Genuine and comprehensive consultation with stakeholders on reforms
  • Reforms focussed on community empowerment and community control
  • Income based on participation in accordance with the national minimum wage
  • Reducing administrative processes for providers, and
  • Additional funding for community development activities.

The criticisms and recommendations are timely, aligning nicely with the commencement of the formal consultation on the future of remote employment services.