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Racist remote Work for the Dole penalties are seriously detrimental to entire communities

There have long been reports of people in remote Indigenous communities living without any form of income or income support. Providers and Indigenous organisations have reported that this has been greatly increased by CDP.

Remote Work for the Dole penalties are seriously detrimental to the wellbeing of the whole community

March 2018
Report from Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research,
Australian National University (ANU)
By Lisa Fowkes
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In the September 2017 quarter, 54,758 penalties were applied to CDP participants, an increase from the previous quarter. 406,626 penalties have been applied to CDP participants from the beginning of the program to the end of September 2017

Despite claims from Government that more people are engaging in Work for the Dole, penalties for non-attendance at Work for the Dole were higher than ever, at 46,258 in the quarter. These penalties are not waived or worked off.

This report states that 8,259 serious 8 week penalties for 'persistent non compliance' were applied to CDP participants in this quarter, an increase from last quarter. CDP participants accounted for 79% of these penalties nationally.

While it remains the case that these 8 week penalties can be 'worked off' the proportion fully working off the penalties appears to have declined.

92% of Indigenous people receiving 8 week penalties under CDP are Indigenous. Nearly 3,500 Indigenous people have received 5 or more serious penalties in the first 2 years of CDP. While Indigenous people have received 92% of penalties, they have received only 68% of 26 week employment outcomes.

Evidence has emerged that number of people accessing remote employment services has dropped since the establishment of CDP and it appears that this is unlikely to be explained by exits into employment.

Background

The CDP operates in remote parts of the NT, WA, Qld, SA & NSW. There are about 33,000 people in the program. About 82% are Indigenous-identified. From 1 July 2015 unemployed job seekers in the Community Development Programme (CDP) with full time work capacity have been required to Work for the Dole for 25 hours per week, scheduled over 5 days per week, throughout the year.

This is substantially more onerous than the requirements of other jobseekers over the course of the year, for example those in the jobactive program.

The CDP was implemented via amendments to the RJCP program which operated in the same areas for two years from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2015.

That program also required activities (up to 20 hours per week), however there was substantially greater local flexibility over the choice of activity, its supervision and scheduling and whether penalties should be applied.

The Department of Jobs and Small Businessreleases information about penaltiesapplied to unemployed income support recipients on a quarterly basis.

This paper presents trends in the application of penalties using those reports, up to September 2017.It compares numbers of penalties applied under CDP with jobactive and with the former program RJCP-which CDP replaced.


pdfPDF file includes more info and graphs.