The Australian Greens are extremely concerned about reports suggesting that Aboriginal workers on the flagship housing program (SIHIP) are not being paid properly.
SIHIP was supposed to have an inbuilt Aboriginal employment scheme, yet reports suggest that CDEP and work for the dole programs are being used instead.
It has been reported that some Aboriginal people are working full time under the scheme, but receiving only Centrelink payments- which includes requiring the use of basics cards.
Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens spokesperson for Aboriginal Issues, says the report in today’s edition of Crikey suggests a disturbing case of exploitation of the scheme.
“The Government needs to explain exactly how this situation has occurred and how on Earth is it beneficial to Aboriginal people and their communities,” Senator Siewert said today.
“The Government has publicised the fact that 30% of workers in SIHIP are Aboriginal, but how many of those people are being paid a Centrelink allowance for fulltime work?
“Offering training opportunities and places is one thing, but denying some Aboriginal workers the opportunity to earn the same wages as the people they are working with, doing exactly the same work day-in, day-out is simply not acceptable.
“The Government promised to replace CDEP with 'real' jobs which have the capacity to provide for communities in coming years. What we are seeing here is the exact opposite – real jobs being denied to workers to create more CDEP places.
“This isn't delivering the ALP’s commitment to equal wages for equal work.
“Once again we appear to be seeing systemic failure on the part of the Government to deliver effective programs and services to Aboriginal people.
“If people are being trained, then a training wage may be appropriate. But as we hear, it would appear that people are working full time for weeks and months after a single days training.
“Aboriginal people in community are working real jobs in construction and renovation next to people who are receiving full wages.
“The SIHIP scheme, by using people for cheap labour, is setting communities up to fail, because long terms jobs aren’t being created and people are being ripped off and discarded,” Senator Siewert concluded.