• Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition, Linda Burney MP, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and Senator Patrick Dodson. (Andrew Meares)Source: Andrew Meares
A Labor senator announces an ALP government would abolish a controversial work-for-the-dole scheme meant to help Indigenous people in remote Australia if it wins the next federal election.
Jack Latimore

17 Dec 2018 - 12:09 PM  UPDATED 17 Dec 2018 - 12:09 PM

The federal Labor party has promised to replace the Community Development Program (CDP) as part of the ALP’s new Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) unveiled at its national conference in Adelaide on Monday.

“This reconciliation Action Plan sets out a significant and powerful challenge for the party. It will be to fully and completely make this party the party of choice for First Nations people,” Labor’s assistant Indigenous affairs spokesman Pat Dodson told delegates. 

The unveiling of the new RAP makes the ALP the first political party to commit to such a move.

The RAP includes a commitment to establishing a Voice to federal parliament and enshrining it in the Constitution. Labor says Constitutional change will be the party's "first priority".

The RAP has been developed with and approved by the party's First Nations’ Caucus Committee (FNC). The FNC was established after the 2016 Federal election, and has an advisory role to Shadow Cabinet and caucus on legislation relevant to First Nations Peoples. 

The first female Indigenous member of the House of Representatives and member for Barton, Linda Burney, will chair a newly formed Reconciliation Action Group charged with driving new initiatives within the RAP.

"I am proud to lead a Labor party that holds these ideals, and is committed to working with First Nations People to make this a reality. If we are to achieve these outcomes and create a truly Reconciled Nation, First Nations People must have a say in all of the decisions that affect their lives," said Labor leader Bill Shorten in a prepared statement.

Announcing the new RAP at the Labor conference, Mr Dodson labelled the community development program “discriminatory, punitive and ineffective”, and said that a Shorten Labor government will abolish it.

Introduced by Tony Abbott in 2015, CDP currently affects around 30,000 people in 1000 communities across Australia. Under the scheme, job seekers must complete up to 25 hours per week of work-for-the-dole activities.

Last year, an audit into the scheme found that the $1.6 billion program had been beset with accusations of rorting among the 40 listed third-party job providers including; claiming fees for dead workers, and lying about worker attendance. More than $700,000 had been recovered from agencies after they “significantly misreported attendance” the report found.

CDP workers also described being made to work three times as many hours as other job seekers for well below minimum wage, often assigned to pointless work, such as cleaning walls or being left at desks with no work to do for months on end.

 -with AAP

Inside the CDP: Allegations of fake work, unsafe conditions and payments for dead people
EXCLUSIVE NITV News Investigation: A growing body of evidence suggests the controversial Community Development Program is failing its more than 30,000 recipients, who are made to work three times as many hours as other job seekers for well below minimum wage.
Audit finds CDP providers claiming work placements for dead people and prisoners
An audit has exposed problems with the CDP but found it is marginally more successful than the scheme it replaced.