Almost 6000 people are “missing” from or are no longer in the Community Development Program (CDP) the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into the Community Development Program Bill 2018 has heard.
“Evidence from the Department and the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research shows that when the scheme commenced on 1 July 2015 there was 36,642 people in the program and as of to 30 June 2018 there was 30,380, Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on First Nations peoples said.
“Those leaving CDP are not being replaced with the next cohort or “caseload”. The committee heard that while some of those who left the caseload will have moved into employment, it would be expected that they would be replaced by others coming into the program.
“The ANAO has noted that Department analysis also suggests that the change could not be explained by job placements or movement between regions.
“What we have is a program so punitive and difficult to navigate that almost 6000 people have opted out and chosen not to participate going without any payment at all, rather than being subjected to this punitive program.
“This is a discriminatory program that targets First Nations peoples and pushes people in remote regions, who are already struggling to access services into further poverty.
“Since the program started there has already been a 740% increase in financial penalties – linked with a decrease in food sales and children breaking in to find food.
“As we heard at the inquiry, the “new” modelling has not been done in consultation with First Nations peak organisation APONT, who first found out about these changes when the Bill was listed on the notice paper.
“I will be following up with the Department at Estimates on how they will be ensuring these 6000 unaccounted for people can re-enter the social safety net.
“The Government still hasn’t explained why people in remote regions – 83% of whom are First Nations peoples – have to be subjected to a work for the dole scheme that is far harsher and more punitive than their city counterparts. Only CDP participants have an obligation every single day and have accordingly racked up significant penalties and payments. This is a discriminatory program that has caused extensive damage – millions of dollars have been stripped away from people already living in poverty.”
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180