Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Building stronger Indigenous communities

Jobs, economic development and training opportunities for Indigenous Australians will be at the core of the Rudd Labor Government’s approach to income support.

To meet the Government’s election commitment to reform rather than abolish the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP), a moratorium was today placed on the dismantling of CDEP in the Northern Territory.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today reiterated the Government’s commitment to a reformed CDEP, creating jobs for Indigenous people in remote Australia.

“The loss of CDEP has had a significant impact in Indigenous communities. There are jobs in remote Australia and we need to ensure local Indigenous people are ready and able to fill them,” Ms Macklin said.

“CDEP provides important infrastructure and human capacity in remote communities and the Federal Labor Government will be building on these assets.

“Where there is work in the private sector, the Government wants CDEP organisations working to get people into jobs.

“For this we need to get the program and the incentives right and I will be undertaking consultation on reforms to CDEP with Indigenous communities as soon as possible.

“The old CDEP will not be simply reinstated. Rather as part of the Government’s commitment to an Indigenous Economic Development Strategy, a reformed CDEP will be made available in remote areas to promote enterprise, training and jobs.

“To achieve these reforms it is necessary to halt the dismantling of the CDEP infrastructure in the Northern Territory.

“The process of converting CDEP jobs into government service delivery jobs will continue, and we will work with State and Territory Governments to similarly convert CDEP positions that support State and Territory Government services.

“The Government also strongly supports the reduction in the amount of cash from government payments that can be spent on drugs, alcohol and gambling in communities.

“It is vital these payments are used to benefit children and spent on necessities such as food, rent and utilities.

“I have therefore authorised, consistent with the existing rollout schedule, income management to commence in the following communities:

  • 11 December 2007 – Mt Leibig, Papunya, Kintore and Kaltukatjara (Docker River);
  • 12 December 2007 – Weemol, Bulman, Beswick, Barunga, Manyalluk (Eva Valley), Binjari and Katherine Town Camps; and
  • 13 December 2007 – Acacia Larrakia and Nauiya (Daly River).

“Each of the communities affected is aware of the commencement of income management, and the head of the NTER operations centre, Major General Chalmers has advised all necessary arrangements for commencement of income management are in place.

“I have also asked that necessary arrangements are put in place to ensure a smooth transition to income management arrangements and to minimise disruption to income flow for people over the Christmas period.

“The Australian Labor Government will work with Indigenous people for a stronger, safer community for all,” Ms Macklin said.