Terrific coverage of the Senate Inquiry into the Community Development …

Comment on CDP work for the dole scheme gets a hammering by Jon Altman.

Terrific coverage of the Senate Inquiry into the Community Development Program (CDP).
It is noteworthy that concurrently there is a Joint Standing Committee with wide-ranging terms of reference to examine modern slavery defined to include forced labour, wage exploitation, involuntary servitude and debt bondage in global and domestic contexts.
There is a connection. CDP was introduced on 1 July 2015 in response to the Forrest Review Creating Parity recommendation that jobless Indigenous people should be required to work full-time (35 hours a week) for the dole at about $7.8 per hour, well below the current minimum wage of $18.29.
The Forrest review also recommended that this payment should be quarantined.
The government’s response is to require 25 hours work per week at less than $11 per hour, with 50-80% quarantined.
This is forced labour and exploitation and a form of involuntary servitude.
If people do not turn up for “work like activity” they are penalised and further impoverished: to date there have been nearly 300,000 penalties applied, most borne by marginalised Indigenous people.
And CDP is “debt bondage” as income is not all paid in cash, with deductions imposed. The dole and “rations” paid for forced labour resonates with past discriminatory treatment of Indigenous Australians as non-citizens.
Paradoxically, the original architect of the CDP approach is Andrew Forrest, businessman and philanthropist, who is also an anti-slavery advocate and key sponsor of the Walk Free Foundation.
This contradiction and the Australian government’s support for Forrest’s recommendations deserve close public scrutiny.

Jon Altman Also Commented

CDP work for the dole scheme gets a hammering
Peter, I am not sure if your anecdotal “typical day” is evidence based or based on observation in a community. Certainly what you describe for the women sounds productive. But the 300,000 no show no pay penalties imposed according to departmental sources suggests that either CDP is poorly administered or deeply unpopular or both.
What is clear is that being breached and being penalised sometimes up to eight weeks is impoverishing and hardly accords with government policy to close the gaps.
More meaningful work options and greater local control might see such extraordinarily high penalty rates diminish?


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