A collaboration of Indigenous policy, peaks, and employment and empowerment organisations are calling for urgent action to create significant growth in employment in remote Indigenous communities.
Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT, Cape York Institute, Empowered Communities leaders from remote regions and Indigenous controlled employment organisations have called on the government to fully fund at least 12,000 new jobs over the next two years as a first step towards full employment in remote Indigenous communities.
The First Nations collective agrees that unless there is a commitment to creating jobs, intolerable levels of unemployment will remain. They welcomed the Government’s budget announcement to end CDP and co-design an alternative system.
The Federal Government’s termination of CDP in 2023 paves the way for an historic cardinal shift from Government investment in managing peoples lives through the welfare system to investing in real employment and economic opportunity, according to Fiona Jose of Cape York Institute.
She says the focus appears to remain on training and activities, work-like-experience, but must be on real jobs that benefit communities and address current shortages.
Our children must see local jobs in their future, not Work for the Dole. This requires a fundamental shift away from Work for the Dole.
APO NT spokesperson John Paterson says, “More than $300 million is currently paid to employment providers to manage ‘activities’ for unemployed people, when what people really want is a chance for proper paid work.”
Modelling commissioned by APO NT in 2018 showed that an extra 12,000 jobs in remote areas would immediately reduce poverty rate in remote areas, and narrow the employment ‘gap’ in these areas by one third. “And that is just day one. More jobs mean more money in communities, more services and local growth.”
“The longer we allow entrenched joblessness in remote communities to go on the worse it gets. Generations of young men and women in remote communities are not getting the chance to experience employment, or to get the skills and experience that work brings. Instead they stay on the dole and in ‘work like activities’. People are getting poorer, and we see the results in poor health and wellbeing outcomes.”
Around 40,000 people across remote Australia are required to enrol in the Commonwealth Government’s Community Development Program. More than 80% of those are First Nations.
The First Nations coalition is calling on the Commonwealth Government to establish a jobs fund that will allow Indigenous communities to create meaningful paid employment for local people.
Fiona Jose says there is plenty of critical work that needs to be done around infrastructure, construction and maintenance of public sector projects.
“The non-state sector could use wage subsidies to support councils and NGOs to employ people on community development initiatives improve their local environment and sustainability, and the social sector could provide opportunities for training in health, aged, and disability care work.”
“Over the next two years we are asking that the Government agree to fully fund at least 12,000 new jobs as a first step towards full employment in remote Indigenous communities,” John Paterson says.
“This won’t be enough to close the employment gap, but it will give communities the chance to build a future which is not shaped by the welfare system and prove the effectiveness of work as a social and economic policy intervention.”
Around 40,000 people across remote Australia are required to enrol in the Commonwealth Governments Community Development Program. Over 80% are Indigenous people.
Remote Indigenous communities are among the poorest in the country, and have some of the poorest health outcomes. There can be no progress in ‘Closing the Gap’ unless there is substantial change in these communities.
Amongst the most significant challenges these communities face is lack of jobs. Even if every job in most communities was held by local people there would not be enough paid employment to go around. Young people finish their educations only to find that the only option is Work for the Dole.
The Commonwealth Government’s decision to terminate the Community Development Program provides a historic opportunity to change this path.
We are calling on the Commonwealth Government to establish a jobs fund that will allow Indigenous communities to create meaningful employment for local people. Over time, we believe that many will move from this work into other jobs, or even their own businesses. In emerging economies this will take time. But unless people are given the opportunity to gain the skills and experience that only comes through work, we know it will never happen.
Importantly, we know there is plenty of critical work that needs to be done. This includes: preserving and passing on culture and language; providing care to local people, building pathways into health and disability work; housing repairs and maintenance, improving community infrastructure and environmental health; managing and reducing waste.
Over the next two years we are asking that the Government agree to fully fund at least 12,000 new jobs as a first step in a return to full employment in remote Indigenous communities. This won’t be enough to close the employment gap, but it will give communities the chance to build a future which is not shaped by the welfare system and prove the effectiveness of work as a social and economic policy intervention.
- Bawinanga AC
- Empowered Communities regions (remote)
- Cape York Institute
- Tangentyere Council
- Tiwi Island Training and Employment Board
- Ironbark Aboriginal Corp. (NT)
- Bynoe QLD
- Ngaanyatjarra Council
- Marra Worra Worra Aboriginal Corporation
- Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory
- Central Land Council
- Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance
- Aboriginal Housing NT
- Northern Australia Aboriginal Justice Agency
- Northern Land Council
- Tiwi Land Council
0418 904 727 – APO NT
0417 073 659 – for Fiona Jose, Cape York Institute