Com­mu­ni­ties fight work for dole

Kalgoorlie Miner - - NEWS - Joanna De­la­lande

Ten com­mu­ni­ties in the north­ern Gold­fields could be head­ing to the Fed­eral Court as part of an on­go­ing fight against the Com­mon­wealth’s “dis­crim­i­na­tory” work for the dole pro­gram.

The Shire of Ngaany­at­jar­raku has been in me­di­a­tion with the Aus­tralian Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion for the past two years to dis­cuss the pro­gram, which they claim uses race to de­ter­mine how peo­ple get ac­cess to in­come sup­port. Shire pres­i­dent Damian McLean said the con­se­quences of the Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Pro­gram, launched in 2015 to re­place the pre­vi­ous Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Em­ploy­ment Projects pro­gram, had been se­vere and the last five years had proved par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult.

“Any au­ton­omy the com­mu­nity had over the pay­roll and over pay­ments un­der the CDEP is gone,” he said.

He claimed the pro­gram re­quire­ments for ac­cess to in­come sup­port for peo­ple in the Shire of Ngaany­at­jar­raku breached the Race Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act. “The pro­gram is dis­crim­i­na­tory be­cause peo­ple who are Abo­rig­i­nal in re­mote ar­eas are re­quired to do more to ac­cess their pay­ments than those closer to the cities.

“This pro­gram has re­sulted in huge lev­els of poverty in Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties.”

He said this was com­pounded by dif­fi­cul­ties ac­cess­ing Cen­tre­link, with the near­est of­fice and bank branch 1000km away ei­ther in Kal­go­or­lie or Alice Springs.

Mr McLean said the Shire would meet with the AHRC one or two more times be­fore me­di­a­tion ended, af­ter which it would need to take the mat­ter to the Fed­eral Court be­fore a judge.

“The level of dys­func­tion in this is very dis­ap­point­ing,” he said.

“The Com­mon­wealth says and has said pub­licly it is a good pro­gram, and they haven’t ad­dressed the is­sue of dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“For more than 30 years, Com­mon­wealth In­come Sup­port was de­liv­ered in the Ngaany­at­jarra com­mu­ni­ties through the in­dige­nous spe­cific, com­mu­nity con­trolled CDEP.

“The CDEP pro­gram was re­mark­ably suc­cess­ful as a tool in tak­ing Ngaany­at­jarra peo­ple from ex­treme lev­els of vi­o­lence, poverty, petrol sniff­ing and al­co­hol abuse, so­cial and ad­min­is­tra­tive dys­func­tion and al­most ev­ery other con­ceiv­able ex­pres­sion of dis­ad­van­tage.”

In­dige­nous Af­fairs Min­is­ter Nigel Scul­lion said the pro­gram was more ef­fi­cient than pre­vi­ous pro­grams be­cause it had sup­ported re­mote job seek­ers into more than 21,000 jobs and seen at­ten­dance rise sig­nif­i­cantly.

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