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Back to the future in Indigenous Affairs: CDEP back on July 1\n\n

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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Federal Liberal Member for Murray

Monday, 30 June 2008

Media Enquiries: Robert Hardie 02 6277 4477 / 0418 432 909

Back to the future in Indigenous Affairs: CDEP back on July 1

A major plank of the Howard Government’s Northern Territory intervention will be wound back tomorrow, when the Community Development and Employment Programme (CDEP) is reinstated in the Northern Territory.

According to Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Dr Sharman Stone, this represents a severe blow for those who saw employment as a centrepiece in helping communities overcome the poverty and hopelessness which had lead to drug abuse and alcoholism, domestic violence and abuse of children.

“CDEP was initiated in the 1970s as Aboriginal ‘Work for the Dole’. Several years before the emergency response, it was reviewed and agreed that there was no remaining place for a stand-alone indigenous work for the dole scheme, when jobs went bidding in communities where the unemployed were locked into CDEP from generation to generation.

“CDEP had become a great cost-shifting exercise for State and Territory Governments. Teachers’ aides, police aides, health workers and local council workers were all kept on CDEP, funded by the Commonwealth, instead of being recruited into real jobs with real pay by the State and Territory Governments.

“Even private employers launching tourism operations engaged workers from the local communities on CDEP funding rather than recruiting them into real full or part time jobs. The Coalition planned to abolish CDEP and replace it by transitioning individuals into real jobs where they had been doing real work in the community.

“For the 80 per cent of CDEP recipients who were on sit down money and never in meaningful occupations, they were to be transferred into job-seeking activities with mutual obligations for looking for work, education and training, just like any other unemployed


“Abolishing CDEP and giving all unemployed indigenous Australians a fair go was to remove the apartheid experience of those locked into poverty by generations of CDEP.

Dr Stone said the Little Children are Sacred report highlighted lack of employment as a major trigger for the dysfunction in indigenous family and community.

“The Rudd Labor Government must urgently reinstate the Coalition’s new employment measures and not allow itself to be captured by the old elites who manipulated commonwealth funding without any concern for the horrific human cost of intergenerational unemployment.