The Australian Greens today expressed their disappointment at the Government's approach to Indigenous employment, following the defeat of Greens amendments designed to stop the Government dumping people off Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) onto income support.
"The Greens do not support the Government's plan to move Aboriginal workers from CDEP jobs onto income support," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
"This is a backwards step that undermines their work-readiness and esteem, ultimately leading to worse employment outcomes."
"In Aboriginal communities the sense of having a job is very important. I have spoken to a lot of people in successful CDEP programs who feel that they have a 'real' job that helps their self-esteem and helps their standing in the community."
"Putting people onto income support or Work for the Dole undermines that. For some workers, particularly among the men, the loss of their CDEP jobs and their status as 'breadwinners' for the family will be devastating," said Senator Siewert.
"There has been a lot of focus on where CDEP has been poorly implemented, and this is used as an excuse to get rid of CDEP instead of how the successes can be built on".
"There is no doubt that CDEP money has been used by governments to cost-shift the provision of essential community services. Governments must properly fund these services to provide properly funded jobs."
"When the government moved to replace CDEP with 'real' jobs we welcomed this commitment - but unfortunately the reality has turned out to be that many more people will be moved onto income support rather than have their CDEP positions converted into fully-funded positions," said Senator Siewert.
"In 2 weeks time 4,000 people will be moved off CDEP. These people will mostly move from CDEP onto income support, that is, out of work into income support. We do not believe that this is a good outcome."
"Shifting people from the community building CDEP onto income support is an inappropriate approach to dealing with the huge problems that Aboriginal people face gaining employment".
"In the face of rising unemployment rates during the global economic downturn, it makes no sense to move people from meaningful work onto the dole when there is little real prospect of them finding work" concluded Senator Siewert.
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