Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

CDEP – ABC Western Plains Mornings

Program: ABC Western Plains

*** E & OE – Proof only ***

DUGALD SAUNDERS: Now the Community Development Employment Project, CDEP, is something we’ve spoken about quite a bit in the past few weeks. It’s a program funded by the Federal Government for unemployed Indigenous people around the country, and there are quite a few CDEPs in our area including Narromine, Nyngan and Warren, but we’ve spoken in recent times about them being under some threat due to the Government’s scaling back funding there. Now eligible organisations have been asked in recent times to put in funding submissions to provide programs, so who’s actually eligible and how will the Indigenous employment program work going forward. I’m joined by Jenny Macklin who’s the Federal Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Minister, good morning, thanks for your time.

JENNY MACKLIN: Good to be with you Dugald.

DUGALD SAUNDERS: Can I ask, I know there’s been funding been put forward for indigenous employment how is it going to be used, going forward?

JENNY MACKLIN: There are a number of changes taking place and so if I can touch on a few of them. One of them is significant changes to the indigenous employment program. Just over the weekend we’ve advertised for expressions of interest for those organisations who would like to be Indigenous employment program providers and those tender documents are available from today, so good timing for this interview. And under the new model for Indigenous employment we’re going to significantly expand this program, in fact there’ll be over $700 million available for Indigenous employment programs around the country and that will really require organisations to focus on work readiness, business development, literacy and numeracy skills, mentoring, so I really would encourage any of your providers who might be listening to get on line and get these tender documents from today.

DUGALD SAUNDERS: So does that mean then that the Indigenous employment program will, I guess for some areas in our region, that are looking like losing CDEP funding, can the Indigenous employment program take over in a way?

JENNY MACKLIN: Yes, some of them have already decided that they will do that. Some of the community development projects were already providing different programs through the other initiative, and so they have already decided that they will expand that part of their work, others have decided that they will apply for funding under this new program and I’d really encourage them to have a look at doing that.

DUGALD SAUNDERS: It seems Minister there’s been a little bit of confusion and some of the places I mentioned including Narromine, Nyngan and Warren. For example Narromine has a big recycyling which is run by CDEP, they’re concerned that that will drop out because funding will be cut for CDEP. Can they continue that under this other program?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well they really need to of course make those judgements themselves. I did meet with them earlier in the year and I understand that these changes have different impacts in different parts of the country. But I’d really remind people of this significant expansion to the Indigenous employment program and suggest they have a look at how it fits with what they want to do in their local area. Another initiative that I mentioned to them and I’ll mention again on your program, is that we’ve got money to convert jobs that were paid under the Community Development Employment Projects arrangements, to convert them into properly paid Government service delivery jobs. So, for example, where there might have been municipal jobs that were done by those on the Community Development program, we want to make sure that people are properly paid, not paid second rate wages, and that’s what these 2,000 job conversions are all about.

DUGALD SAUNDERS: Alright, so is there a move because CDEP funding has changed basically to be more for remote areas, I guess some of the places in our region will remain with CDEP, is there a line in the sand? How do you decide what is remote?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we have made a judgement and it is about a judgement of course as to where the nature of the economy is just so limited that we do want to continue a form of the Community Development Employment Program. But even in those areas we are restructuring it because we want even in remote parts of Australia to encourage Indigenous people to look for properly paid jobs. What we’re also doing in both the remote and the non-remote parts of Australia, is introducing a new community support program because we understand that the Community Development Employment Projects were partly about work readiness but also in many places about community development. So we’ll be advertising that new community support in a few weeks.

DUGALD SAUNDERS: Okay. So the real idea behind the change towards more of this indigenous employment program is that people need to be getting suitable employment on a long term basis rather than using CDEP as a bit of a prop up?

JENNY MACKLIN: It really is making sure that we do everything possible to get people work ready, that might be about literacy and numeracy, it might be about support for business development, but what we don’t want is people getting paid lower wages, not getting paid proper wages for doing a job that really should be paid properly in the normal economy, and we’ve seen too many people treated in this way over a long period of time. It is about making sure too, that our universal employment services, the Job Network, actually work for Indigenous people. We can’t have a situation where you would have heard the complaints like I have over the years that we’re not getting a good enough service from the Job Network so there are major reforms starting on the 1st July and the Job Network providers will be required to have comprehensive indigenous employment programs and I want people to be treated properly by the Job Network.

DUGALD SAUNDERS: As far as locally we’re concerned here and the one big thing I suppose that sticks out is that recycling program at Narromine which works so well. It’s up to them now to look at whether they can run that same sort of program under this new Indigenous employment program I guess?

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s right. So they should have a look at the material that’s been advertised over the weekend. The tender documents they can get today and I really would encourage them to have a look at how this program can fit to support their preparation of their staff, the work readiness, mentoring, and the other services that they’ve traditionally provided to their employees.

DUGALD SAUNDERS: I’m sure they will do. There will probably be some more questions coming up but thank you very much for your time this morning, Minister, I appreciate it.

JENNY MACKLIN: My pleasure.

DUGALD SAUNDERS: That’s Jenny Macklin, who is the Federal Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs joining us here on ABC Western Plains.