C.D.E.P. The protection of Aboriginal children and the welfare tit.

sitdownmoney1.jpg                  Photo from Jangari’s mate Joe on matjjin – nehen 

CDEP in the Northern Territory Emergency Response
Fact Sheet—CDEP Participants

“Beginning in September 2007, the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) programme in the Northern Territory will progressively be replaced with other services.

This is to support the emergency response to protect your children, make your communities safer and improve services.

You will be helped to move into real jobs, training or income support.”
From the Department of Employment and Workplace relations website.
 

“Nobody here knows why this is being done to them. CDEP works well here and it’s being taken away, even though many people have worked very hard for years. Had some positive options been presented, then great – good riddance CDEP – but the impression given was that the only option is Centrelink. Well, I think it just broke people’s spirits.”
From “The Intervention Pt. 2 on “That Munanga Linguist”, a blogger posting from Ngukurr in the Northern Territory, one of the communities targeted by the intervention.

I wonder how this emergency initiative will protect children? 

I have allways been opposed to CDEP and remain so. It is a work for the dole scheme so in real terms the transition from CDEP to Work for the is dole is meaningless. The CDEP program was designed purely and simply to get  people off the unemployment records, as is work for the dole.

 Aboriginal communities have unemployment rates in excess of 80% at a time when the nation celebrates record low unemployment figures. Unemployment has been disguised by CDEP where all those who would otherwise be on the dole are doing work for the dole except it is recorded as employment – because it is CDEP.

CDEP has failed by all standards to provide relevent job training or employment options. It is simply the underpaid untrained labour force doing the same jobs with inadequate resources to provide the same services that public servants do in mainstream communities.

So now that we have got that straight;

Howard and Brough’s NT intervention, in the name of “protecting children” is more malignant than just transfering CDEP paperwork to work for the dole.

CDEP administrators have built up, over decades, working relationships with Aboriginal councils, elders, mens groups, womens groups and young people in the communities that they operate. Within their limited frameworks and resources they have applied Aboriginal labour as best as they could to providing Aboriginal community infrastructure.

CDEP has indeed been used as a bandaid, but a bandaid is better than a weeping wound – which the NT intervention is about to pick the scab off.

The abolition of CDEP effectively removes all Aboriginal control of Aboriginal infrastructure. The Centrelink work for the dole programs will not be designed to provide community infrastructure but rather to provide individual job skills to it’s participants and steer them in the direction of jobs.

The problem is there are no jobs in Aboriginal communities so CDEP will be steering people  away from their communities into cities and towns where there are some jobs and more interesting work for the dole programs.

There have been many critics of CDEP who, like myself,  have said that without the development of an economic base in Aboriginal communities all job training schemes will fail.    This is easy to say, as is the demand for proper wages, but where will the money for proper wages come from? Higher wages for CDEP/Work for the dole – more from the welfare tit?

Real work will only come from real investment into labour intensive industries in Aboriginal communities.

The federal government mouths the rhetoric of economic development by encouraging Aboriginal people to become entrepreneurs.  Assistance is available to set up an ABN and begin a small business.   Some people may be able to “get off the dole” and be supported by centrelink, on a wage equivalent to the dole, while they start their small business.

Apparently over two thirds of small businesses in the mainstream economy collapse within a couple of years of setting up. The biggest single factor for the failure of these enterprises was undercapitalisation. Many were viable business plans but the entrepreneurs lacked the funds to do the job properly in the first instance, so the job wasn’t done properly.

It seems to me that if undercapitalisation is the obvious pitfall of small business then the most under capitalised sector of Australian society, Aboriginal people, may not be able to achieve a success rate better than the mainstream.

So enough whinging, what’s the alternative?

Here? – “Out of the box. A vision for housing” – well it would be a start anyway.

Another starting point would be to look at succesful businesses such as mining and agriculture that exists on Aboriginal land (as it all does).  At present local Aboriginal people are sometimes offered training as workers in these industries which is fine.    However this strategy does not build an independent or expansive Aboriginal economic base.  

 Traditional owners need also to be trained as executive directors, share traders and management consultants in order to engage with industries on their traditional land.  If traditional owners were shareholders in or joint venturers with successful and stable industry this would achieve much more than a work for the dole program.

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1 Comment

Filed under Aboriginal, australia, economy, justice, politics, reconciliation, society

One response to “C.D.E.P. The protection of Aboriginal children and the welfare tit.

  1. I completely agree – the CDEP scheme is a work for the dole scheme designed to mask the high Indigenous unemployment rates we face in this country. It is, however, better than having nothing at all, and certainly a better option than the NT ‘Intervention’. Under the new scheme, Indigenous people are forced to work for a $230 Centrelink payment ($115 of which is provided on a ‘BasicsCard’), while land, property and infrastructure belonging to Indigenous Australians is also being lost. How can we justify this?

    The solution should be to fix the causes of Indigenous unemployment on both the demand and the supply side. Lack of education, poor access to health facilities, and personal factors such as mental scarring caused by past removal are only a few of the issues that require urgent attention. There is also, however, a lack of job supply in many Indigenous communities. Since many Aboriginals have a strong connection to their homeland, relocation is not an option. It is up to the government to develop those communities by providing massive investment in job creation and service provision in these communities.

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