In a huge backtrack on earlier promises, the Morrison Government has renewed the racially discriminatory Community Development Program until July 2024.
In case you missed it, the Community Development Program (CDP) is the racially discriminatory remote work-for-the-dole scheme.
ACTU Indigenous Officer Lara Watson describes the CDP as “punishment for living in a remote community” and “a pool of free labour”.
“This is punishment for being indigenous. It leads to more poverty, and more fracturing of communities,” she says.
It almost exclusively affects Indigenous workers who are subjected to poor and dangerous working conditions, with no pay, no leave and no OHS standards.
Participants in the program are required to participate in 20 hours of work per week – and many are not aware that CDP is now voluntary.
The program effectively provides free labour in remote communities where jobs are already scarce, replacing real, paying jobs with unpaid labour.
People who were unable to comply with the requirements of the scheme faced extensive financial penalties and lengthy periods of being cut off from support payments all together, there is still that fear of not being paid if they are unable to participate.
If that sounds horrendous, that is because it is. But the Morrison Government is now insisting on the program’s extension.
Another Morrison missed opportunity
We had been promised the end of the CDP. The Government’s promised abolition of the program presented an opportunity to prevent the Coalition from repeating their mistakes.
Although the Morrison Government had a chance to meet and consult with Indigenous communities, they missed the opportunity & botched their co-design process.
They revealed a $111m injection into the discredited and discriminatory program in the Federal Budget this week. Most of this funding is to address high caseloads & to produce another process to design a replacement employment program in regional and remote – and primarily Indigenous – communities.
“The return of the CDP represents another broken promise to Indigenous workers by the Morrison Government,” Ms Watson says.
“After failing to consult, the Prime Minister has failed to address a racially discriminatory policy which was promised to be abolished.”
The vital role of the First Nations Workers Alliance
Through the First Nations Workers’ Alliance, union members continue to promote the collective voice of Community Development Programme workers to campaign for fair wages and employment conditions.
Unions have a long history of working to address racism in this country. We’ve always worked towards purposeful change because we believe in fundamental rights that benefit all workers, and we stand in solidarity with all First Nations people.
If you want to see change, together, we can take action to drive that change. Union members are building fairer and safer workplaces for today – and tomorrow.
All union members can join the Alliance here. If you’re not yet a member of a union, now is the best time to join.