When the Whitlam government introduced CDEP in the NT circa …

Comment on CDP work for the dole scheme gets a hammering by John Bell.

When the Whitlam government introduced CDEP in the NT circa 1972, the concept we were sold was that a block of money equivalent to the combined unemployment benefits payable to Community X would be allocated to Community X.
The Community X Council would then get together to create a number of jobs between which the funding would be divided as wages.
The Council would then decide who would be employed in those jobs.
At the time, CDEP was presented as socialism at its finest, with the Community taking control.
As the meerkat lad says in the ad on tellie: “Simples!”
So, 45 years on, what went wrong?

John Bell Also Commented

CDP work for the dole scheme gets a hammering
@ Bob Beadman. Bob provides thoughtful detail to the history of the various Federal government employment initiatives that began with Liberal Minister William Wentworth’s Training Allowance Scheme in 1967.
The first training allowance payments began to about 30 communities throughout the NT in late February 1968.
The training allowance scheme was an effort to head off trade union activism in remote traditional communities which would have occurred in an award wage environment.
The Whitlam government of 1972 and then the appointment of Charlie Perkins as effectively the first human rights commissioner in 1976 made the politics of equal wages in remote communities a major white idealistic battleground that raged from then on in academia and in the human rights lobby.
The industry of Aboriginal shame and blame was born. CDEP and all that followed was a product of those emotive political times. A patterned approach to economic productivity and community wellbeing was established and entrenched. Nothing has changed. My opinion only.


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@ Alex Nelson. Thank you Alex. It was a very sad situation. I have often wondered about the two young lads who found him and how they must have felt.


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This brings to mind the finding of a human skeleton in the early 70s.
Up on the cliff face of the MacDonnell Range near Heavitree Gap, stuck in a cleft, an old .22 by his side, ragged remnants of clothes, with pre-decimal currency in the pocket.
He had been looking out over Sadadeen for quite a number of years, discovered by young lads climbing.
I cannot recall if identity was ever established, whether it was suicide or an accident.


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@ Carly. Your rather crass comment is perhaps better suited to the Twitteratti social comment medium, rather than in this respected cyber news medium?


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Strewth. A Federal prison in the Alice. The mind boggles. It could be filled immediately with Feddie ratbags and bushrangers for whom warrants are still outstanding from Traeger Park days of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
I can think of a few lads to be cell block chiefs. And then there are the Eover boys, the Pioneer lads, the Soupies … the place will be chockablock in an eyeblink.
They will have to throw away the keys.


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@ Local1: $300 for a Welcome to Country is chicken feed compared with the going rate down here in Melbourne Town Wiradjuri country. More than five and ten times that amount is usually the go, with competing elder groups jostling for position to get the gig. It tends to lose a bit of its oomph in this fiercely competitive monetary atmosphere.
Then you toss in the imposed mysticism of a La La Green White local council eg Darebin Council that adds to the mix, declaring non-Australia Day and banning all white ratepayers from a Smoking Ceremony in Council Chambers on 26 January to give the finger to Captain Cook.
All this from a moral-lecturing White Council that would not know a churinga from a chopstick – and it gets a bit much.
Ernie Dingo and Richard Wally must be sitting back in Suby, enjoying a nice quiet ale, grinning, saying to each other: “Our job is done here!”
I really like those two rascals. Richard was on our NASF Board in the 80s.
Mind you, they may sincerely believe they have done a great thing. Good luck to them.


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