Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Government timetable for Indigenous employment reforms announced

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Brendan O'Connor, Minister for Employment Participation

The Government will shortly begin consultations on Indigenous employment services reforms which will form part of a broader Indigenous Economic Development Strategy to be announced by the end of the year.

These employment services reforms will complement the Government’s new Job Network arrangements and include substantial reform of the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP).

The forthcoming review of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) will provide an opportunity to examine the effectiveness of employment and income support measures trialled over the last twelve months and these findings will also be taken into account in formulating the final strategy.

The Government understands this period of transition and reform may lead to uncertainty and concern on the part of individuals and service providers.

The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs will write to all current CDEP providers advising them that up to a further 12 months of funding will be available from 1 July 2008 to ensure people are working while reforms are being progressively introduced.

The Rudd Government is committed to improved Indigenous employment opportunities with all new measures to be in place by 1 July 2009.

The Government will, as an interim measure, introduce CDEP from 1 July 2008 in the 30 prescribed NT communities where CDEP was abolished to ensure individuals are required to work to receive their pay.

The previous Government’s system of transitional payments, set in legislation until 30 June 2008, is not working. It is inconsistent, effectively removes any incentive for Indigenous people to become work-ready and be placed in real jobs and means that workforce participation cannot be adequately monitored.

The Government is strongly committed to reforming CDEP and will be taking an evidence-based approach to develop a new, effective system that requires people to take up job opportunities available in their local area.

Individuals who are currently receiving a transitional welfare payment would have lost the payment when the legislation underpinning this payment expires on 30 June 2008.

Under the Government’s interim arrangements, CDEP participants will be paid, on average, a weekly wage of around $240. Participants will be subject to the CDEP ‘no work, no pay’ policy.

The previous Government’s rushed decision to abolish CDEP in the NT means former CDEP recipients are currently eligible to receive up to $794.80 a fortnight without any requirement to work.

The Australian Government is committed to removing the inconsistencies in the existing system and stopping further decline into passive welfare.