By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP) was announced by the Federal Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, Julie Collins (pictured left) in Alice Springs.
It makes no mention of the initiative by her Northern Territory counterpart, Alison Anderson (pictured right), aiming to subject regional development to “integration and coordination across business, industry, the community and all levels of government”.
Both initiatives were announced yesterday and have roughly the same objectives in the same region and are trying to help the same people: But it appears that when it comes to spending public money, one hand, once again, cares little about what the other is doing.
We asked both Ms Collins and Ms Anderson what kind of consultation (if any) there has been during the formulation of the RJCP and Ms Anderson’s Regional Development Framework (RDF), and in what way (if at all) they will collaborate in the future.
Ms Anderson says the RDF “is about listening to people in communities and working with them to achieve real outcomes, it’s not about throwing money at a problem.
“In fact it is the opposite. The RDF is to make sure that money is spent appropriately and in areas that the community has expressed a need.
“The five RDF committees can access programs from a variety of areas, including the Federal Government’s RJCP.”
Ms Anderson makes no reference to any communication with the Feds. Ms Collins’ aides are working on a response which we will publish when it is to hand.
Ms Collins will be spending Central Australia’s share of $1.5 billion in Federal dollars through two shires, Central Desert and Barkly (the Anderson stronghold MacDonnell is notably absent) and five NGOs.
These include, after “a rigorous selection process”, Tangentyere, which has a poor record, over decades, of servicing town camps, a function which it has recently largely lost; and Wana Ungkunytja, which has a string of failed enterprises.
Ngurratjuta, CatholicCare NT and Tjuwanpa are the other organisations.
Beginning on July 1, “for people living in the Alice Springs town camps, the surrounding regions and across remote Australia,” Ms Collins’ program will provide “a simpler, more integrated and flexible approach to participation and employment services,” says Ms Collins.
“The Government believes that everyone who can work should work and those who are not working should be participating in meaningful activities that contribute to the strength and sustainability of their community,” Ms Collins says, suggesting shades of CDEP.
“For the first time there will be an integrated one stop shop for job seekers in remote communities—a single, local point of contact for employment and participation services.
“No more fly in fly out job contractors.
“No more training for training’s sake.
“Job seekers will be provided with personalised support and case management” and “young people will receive targeted support through the Remote Youth Leadership and Development Corps (Youth Corps).”
While Ms Collins says “these plans will ensure that providers and the Government are clear about local priorities for participation, training, employment and long-term development” she does not make it clear how this will mesh with the Territory initiatives.
Neither does she spell out how her Community Development Fund will coordinate with the NT the spending of its share of the $237.5 million to be allocated nationally over the next five years.
UPDATE 3:10pm Thursday, May 3:
A spokesman for the Department for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations provided the following statement:-
Australian and Northern Territory Government officials were involved in discussions about the future of employment services in remote Australia.
• Since the announcement of the Remote Jobs and Communities Program in April 2012, there have been further discussions involving government officials on the new program.
• Around 1200 people contributed to 42 consultation sessions across Australia in August and September 2011.
• In 2011 the Australian Government undertook a wide consultation process to design a more flexible and responsive service to meet the needs of people living in remote Australia.
• A discussion paper, The Future of Remote Participation and Employment Servicing Arrangements, was released in August 2011.
• A Remote Participation and Employment Services Engagement Panel was also appointed to provide advice on policy direction and how to engage with remote communities. Panel members:- Ms Shirley McPherson; Chair, Indigenous Land Corporation; Mr John Berto, Chief Executive Officer, Thamarrurr Development Corporation; Ms Pat Brahim, General Manager, Julalikari Council Aboriginal Corporation; Mr Nolan Hunter, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Kimberley Land Council; Ms Suzannah Kuzio, Chief Executive Officer, Community Enterprises Australia; Ms Sally Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer, National Employment Services Association and Ms Melanie Stutsel, Director, Health, Safety, Environment and Community Policy, Minerals Council of Australia.
Bush funding: what does the one hand know about the other?
By ERWIN CHLANDA