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Greens seek jobs with justice

The Australian Greens continue to pressure the Government to act on failings in its flagship Indigenous housing program SIHIP, which was meant to be a key plank of the NT Intervention.

Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues has led calls for the Government to end the failing NT intervention, raising serious concerns about the treatment of Aboriginal workers involved in SIHIP.

Senator Siewert will address the Jobs with Justice rally in Sydney today and present a petition to Parliament next week calling for back-pay for Aboriginal workers who believed they would receive real wages for the hours they worked and who now feel misled and exploited.

“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,” Senator Siewert said today.

“This means there are instances of people undertaking full-time skilled work who are not receiving appropriate income in return. In some cases Centrelink payments are being used, half of which are then quarantined through the Government’s income management regime.

“We have been told that the government's aim continues to be about getting people off CDEP and income support and into real jobs. What we see here is the exact opposite – there were real jobs to be had, with $652 million being invested in improving housing in some Aboriginal communities. But those real jobs have been turned into CDEP, and capable and willing Aboriginal workers have been sidelined.

“Yet again the promise of action, development or support is followed by a systemic letdown. People are seeing the promise of real jobs fading, to be replaced more CDEP training, more exploitation and unfair wages.

“Talk of a ‘new intervention’ must end. We should take on board the successes and failures of past policies to implement a longer term community-based approach capable of delivering meaningful change, not simply push on with more of the same.

“This should be a long-term plan developed in real partnership with Aboriginal communities to equalise life opportunities and outcomes. This planning must be backed up by a sustained investment of resources in community-based organisations.

“We are determined to see the promised opportunities and skills delivered to communities in the NT and end the waste and bureaucracy which has been all too prevalent during the intervention,” concluded Senator Siewert.

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