An audit of the program handed down its final report and found some problems with the $1.6 billion program including accusations of rorting among the 40 listed third party job providers, including: claiming fees for dead workers, and lying about worker attendance at activities.
The Australian National Audit Office report found a significant number of third party job providers were found to be either at a high risk of fraud or financially vulnerable.
It said that auditing by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet itself had revealed almost $700,000 in misappropriated funds under the CDP which had been recovered. It also found there were issues in the accurate reporting of attendance by workers at activities and compliance with program requirements.
In one case it found that a provider: “inflated CDEP numbers with people in jail or deceased; kept funding intended to boost local employment.”
The audit also found that the CDP was providing marginal improvements over the program it replaced, the Remote Jobs and Communities Program. On average each job seeker costed the scheme approximately $10,500 which is close to five times more than the standard Jobactive program covering workers in cities and other regional areas.
It also said that providers were claiming up to $31,400 for each participant and the number of people in the program employed 13 weeks went from 41 per cent under the RJCP to 47 per cent under CDP. Those employed 26 weeks after starting rose from 26 per cent to 34 per cent.
The ANAO concluded that while the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, which oversees the program had established transparent reporting and governance arrangements, it was still too early to determine if the CDP was being administered effectively.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said he welcomed the report's findings which he said showed the transition to CDP had been a success.
“I am pleased that the report recognised the effective implementation of the CDP. We are getting job seekers in remote Australia off welfare and into work,” He said.
In a statement he said the CDP the programme had supported over 20,000 job placements, that on 6200 occasions these placements have lasted for at least six months.
“The CDP is delivering for communities by preparing participants for employment, and improving community amenities, creating safer and healthier communities.
“The CDP is working – with 93 per cent of eligible job seekers placed in work-like activities and active participation now at 72 per cent and I am pleased that the ANAO has recognised the increased funding that the Coalition Government is providing to support remote job seekers.
The ANAO audit recommended that DPMC review the structure of payments under the current model, which Senator Scullion said the Government would do.
He said improvements to the scheme were already underway.
“Getting people into work in remote communities is complex and there is certainly room to improve," he said.
A separate senate inquiry is still considering the findings of its own hearings into the program.