Abolishing the Community Development Program (CDP), under which thousands of mostly indigenous Australians were forced to undertake an endless cycle of Work for the Dole activities in order to receive an unemployment payment and were subject to a harsh and coercive penalty scheme for failing to do so, as welcome a move as it is, cannot simply be another formulaic step in the current evolution of programs designed at assisting remote and indigenous communities. This consultation process is an opportunity to decide to create a new solution for remote communities – one that does not make the same mistakes as the past. The underlying problems that the CDP aimed to address must still be tackled and solved. CDP must be replaced with a new program – one that avoids its failings, and which separates itself from the failed policy evolution the led to the CDP. It needs to be replaced with a program that is fit for purpose, which respects the self-determination of indigenous communities and achieves its goals effectively and with respect for culture and place. The ACTU and the First Nations Workers Alliance (FNWA), do not believe that this can be achieved by the proposal of a new, one-size-fits-all solution developed by groups distant and disconnected from remote communities or with selected peoples during the trial period – it should embrace each community and develop a program fit for each community.

A replacement for the CDP should be developed in consultation with the communities impacted according to the following principles:

  1. Co-Design – working in collaboration with communities.

  2. Place Based – flexible to place and specific circumstances.

  3. Focussed on Job Creation – sustainable employment built around the creation of full-time & part-time job opportunities.

  4. Investment in jobs on country – services which are being delivered by community members should be waged employment.

  1. Supportive, not Punitive – designed to facilitate and support engagement, not punish.

  2. Real jobs, real wages – if it is work-like, then it can be a real job, with real wages and access to workplace conditions.

  3. Ongoing Support – provide effective pre and post – employment support to participants

  4. Long-Term Solutions – focus on building the long-term economic capacity of communities and individuals.

We believe that a new program developed under these principles will be able to assist remote and indigenous communities to achieve the real change they desire.