• Aboriginal Peak Organizations launch an alternative program for the current remote work-for-the-dole scheme. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
Aboriginal Peak Organisations (APO) have launched an alternative program for the current remote work-for-the-dole scheme after finding it was mainly targeted at Indigenous people.
Rangi Hirini

8 Sep 2017 - 4:18 PM  UPDATED 8 Sep 2017 - 4:24 PM

It’s been labelled a “discriminatory” and “racist” program which is aimed at people who are unemployed and depend on welfare payments.

Currently 84 per cent of those on the remote Community Development Program (CDP) are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

People in remote communities have to do more work than people in non-remote communities for the same basic social security payments.

“What it reminds me of is a modern day Wave Hill situation- where Aboriginal people were paid sugar, flour and tea.

Remote participants must do 25 hours of "work-like" activities per week to receive their welfare payments.

They work three times longer than unemployed people in metropolitan areas.  

John Paterson, CEO of Aboriginal Peak Organizations said the current program is “not an effective piece of work” and claims it puts “so many breaches on Aboriginal people”.

“We haven’t come here to bash the government or criticise, we’ve come here with a solution and the solution is here and we’re willing to work with all government at all levels,” he said.

The APO along with a number of other Indigenous organisations have launched their alternative program, the Proposed Remote Development and Employment Scheme.

They said their program is more focused on creating jobs so participants on the welfare can get off it and live independently.

Ged Kearney, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), has backed the APO’s proposed plan.

“Aboriginal people, like all workers, deserve a decent wage and financial security. They deserve a job that gives them occupational health and safety protections and all the protections of the Fair Work Act,” she said.

Since July 2015 only 3500 people have been able to find full time work out of the 35 000 people who are involved in the CDP.

The most appalling findings from participants on the program is the average wage people are being paid is $11 an hour- way less than the minimum wage of $18.86.

Mr Paterson said the wages of people on the government’s community plan is “an absolute disgrace”.

“What it reminds me of is a modern day Wave Hill situation- where Aboriginal people were paid sugar, flour and tea," he said.

“Those sorts of conditions and that sort of wage offer and assistance for Aboriginal Australians should not be offered in this day and age."

The APO launched their plan during the Senate hearing about the current Community Development Program.

They hope for the Turnbull government to accept their proposal and take urgent action. 

"Government should seriously consider the implementation of this alternative model immediately. Not next week, not next month, not a year but right now because Aboriginal people, Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal families are hurting,” Mr Paterson said.

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