First Nations Workers Alliance

There is strength in numbers - are you with us?

About FNWA

Through the First Nations Workers’ Alliance (FNWA), union members continue to fight for wage justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers.

The Community Development Program

Workers undergoing the Community Development Program (CDP) were not actually classified as workers. They received well below the minimum wage (the dole pays $11.60/hour or $290/week) for working for 25 hours a week for non-profit and now for-profit businesses.

They were not covered by the Fair Work Act, they didn’t have Federal OHS protections or workers compensation and they can’t take annual leave, sick leave or carer’s leave.

Those under the CDP were forced to work up to three times longer than city-based jobseekers to receive welfare payments. Since July 2015, less than 3,500 Indigenous participants found full-time or part-time work lasting six months or more.

CDP workers had 70 times more the financial penalties imposed upon them than non-remote dole workers.

Fines for missing activities under CDP – which covers a tiny fraction of the population – accounted for more than half the total penalties across the entire welfare system.

Campaign Timeline

The Community Development Program will be no more. After the election of the Albanese Government in 2022, the first federal budget provided funding for a trial program as a first step to replacing the CDP.

After a botched co-design process the Morrison Government reneges on its commitment.

They decide to funnel another $111 million into the racist CDP and extend the program to July 1, 2024.

The FNWA escalates its work to see the Morrison Government voted out on May 21.

After heavy campaign pressure, the Morrison Government commits to end the CDP by 2023, suspend punitive measures and the program become voluntary.

The FNWA supports a replacement program built through co-design and community consultation.

We continue to support workers and campaign against any other program that could be harmful to communities.

CDP workers excluded from protections against the COVID-19 pandemic and expected to turn up for work, while the rest of Australia isolates.

Campaign outrage forces the Government to suspend punitive measures and allow workers to isolate.

Campaign pressure forces the Government to address concerns over the racist CDP. But the Coalition fails to address the punitive measures and the harmful effects on remote communities.

What next?

The work of the First Nations Workers’ Alliance continues at full-strength.

FNWA operates like a union for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers who do not have access to a union or are not considered workers due to falling under the social security act.

For 2023, FNWA will be supporting the YES campaign at the upcoming referendum on the question on whether a First Nations Voice should be enshrined in the Australian Constitution. Watch this space.

Headshots of FNWA members

Join the First Nations Workers Alliance

Through the First Nations Workers’ Alliance, union members continue to promote the collective voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CDP workers to campaign for fair wages and employment conditions.

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 FNWA. If you’re not yet a member of a union, now is the best time to join.

There is strength in numbers

Join the FNWA