Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Jobs and training for Indigenous people in the NT

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Joe Hockey MP, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

The Hon Mal Brough MP, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, and the Hon Joe Hockey MP, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, today announced a further key step in the Emergency Response being implemented in the Northern Territory.

The Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) programme in the Northern Territory will be progressively replaced by real jobs, training and mainstream employment programmes, complementing the work already in train to lift remote area exemptions.

“Under the changes, it is expected that some 2000 people will be assisted off CDEP into real work. Others will be given better opportunities for training and participation by being transitioned onto income support, with the normal participation requirements including access to Job Network services, Structured Training and Employment Projects (STEP) or Work for the Dole,” said Mr Brough.

“These changes will mean a renewed focus on helping Indigenous people to become work ready, assisting them find jobs both within and outside their communities and improving their work related skills through education, training and work experience.

“While acknowledging the role that CDEP has played in many communities, it has become a destination for too many. We need to do much better to improve the long-term prospects for economic independence for those living in the remote areas of the Northern Territory.”

The 50 CDEP providers affected by the changes can still play a major role in their communities and will be encouraged to apply to become STEP providers or Work for the Dole sponsors.

The Australian Government has already successfully introduced these measures in urban and regional areas. This Northern Territory specific measure builds on these changes. This measure forms an important part of the Emergency Response by addressing passive welfare.

“Over the past two years the Australian Government has already invested $118 million to create almost 1000 real jobs in Government service delivery for Indigenous Australians participating in CDEP. We will build on this initiative in the Northern Territory by converting CDEP positions that support Government service delivery into real jobs wherever possible,” said Mr Hockey.

“We will work closely with the Northern Territory Government to move CDEP participants working in other areas of government service delivery into real jobs.

“We will also continue to grow employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians by working with major industries such as mining, pastoral and construction as well as developing local job strategies and providing business support that will assist Indigenous people to take up jobs in their local community.”

Mr Hockey said the changes will take place on a community by community basis. “Commencing from September 2007, we will ensure that training and Work for the Dole places are available in communities before we transition existing CDEP participants to the new services. Critical services in communities will continue to be supported by CDEP until other arrangements are in place,” said Mr Hockey.

“CDEP participants moving onto income support will be covered by a single system of quarantining that will apply to welfare payments. This initiative will reduce the flow of cash going to alcohol and drug abuse.

“Current participants may also be eligible to receive a new Northern Territory CDEP Transition Payment. This payment will assist individuals to manage any changes in income that may result from their move from CDEP.

“There will be information sessions across the Northern Territory beginning on Thursday 26 July in Darwin, Tennant Creek and Nhulunbuy and representatives from my Department will work on the ground with participants and CDEP providers to help them make the transition.

“The Government remains committed to reducing passive welfare in remote areas by lifting remote area exemptions. Some $41 million in funding is already being used to stimulate employment and work-related participation opportunities for income support recipients living in remote areas of Australia.

“There has been strong support from communities where remote area exemptions have already been removed with greater numbers of people participating in work-related activities. More funding will be provided to fast track this process to support the emergency response.”

“The reforms to CDEP in the Northern Territory are a key part of normalising Indigenous communities, providing opportunities to create real economies and job opportunities in Aboriginal townships,” said Mr Brough.

More information and session details are available in the attached Questions and Answers or through the Northern Territory response hotline – 1800 333 995 (24 hours/7 days).