Bush jobs for dole: 26 weeks, 25 hours per week


Sir – Remote employment services will change from 1 July to ensure job seekers are active and contributing to their communities to make them better places to live.
The Community Development Programme (CDP), formerly the Remote Jobs and Communities Programme, will see unemployed people engaged in meaningful activities and on a pathway to real jobs.
People in remote Australia have told us that they want their communities to be vibrant places with people engaged, and real employment and business opportunities.
Over the next 12 months, almost 30,000 job seekers aged between 18 and 49 in remote communities will be required to make a meaningful contribution for their welfare payments for up to 25 hours a week.
We will identify activities within existing institutions, such as local councils, aged care facilities, child care facilities, ranger programmes and schools. Our goal is to support communities and put an end to sit-down money.
Training will be available through employment services providers for skills that are needed to fill real jobs in communities in areas such as education, health and trades.
I am not expecting this programme to produce dramatic change overnight – but I am hoping that in time, it will give unemployed people new job skills and improve the community where they live.
Activities will be broad to ensure as many people are fully occupied up to 25 hours a week.
There will be incentives for employers and employment service providers to transition jobseekers into real jobs, with payments geared towards achieving a 26 week outcome.
We know that if we can connect people to work for 26 weeks, there is a very high chance of them staying in work.
Activities will be required year-round, but there would be identified leave, including cultural and sick leave, as well as breaks where appropriate, and Christmas shutdown periods.
Nigel Scullion (pictured)

Minister for Indigenous Affairs


  1. Dear Nigel,
    You have announced you are reinventing the old CDEP that operated for decades and led to many Aboriginal people getting a real job.
    Well done.
    The RJCP was an absolute joke and very disheartening for Aboriginal residents in remote communities.
    As a former CEO of a remote Aboriginal community council I know how successful the old CDEP was in creating an employment path for community residents.
    What a shame all that RJCP money achieved absolutely nothing apart from making some job service providers very rich people.
    I despair at how many good programs get disbanded when government ideology runs rampant and it is everyday people who bear the brunt of these ridiculous political decisions.
    I fear the next “new” government initiative will not have learned a thing from history and previous mistakes.
    And you wonder why politicians have no credibility.
    The answer is staring you in the face.

  2. Two things Nige.
    First, what mischief are you up to when you discriminate against some people by requiring them to work for the dole for 25 hours per week, spread over five days per week, for 26 weeks, but do not require that all their welfare-receiving unemployed fellow citizens in urban centres must do the same?
    Second, I am living in a remote community where there are precisely five employers who are able to employ local people, and none of them are at all likely to be able to employ many more than they already do after six months of your scheme.
    Therefore there will be virtually no available jobs for the vast majority of these people to “transition into” anytime soon, unless you pull your finger out and start funding a decent housing construction program (to alleviate the gross overcrowding of homes), and/or CDEP programmes in the communities.
    As that noteworthy social critic Amy Winehouse used to sing so soulfully, “What kind o f*ckery is this?”

  3. There is no evidence that CDEP led to many Aboriginal people getting a real job.
    In Central Australia it was common knowledge that CDEP coordinators had an official job and an unofficial one, the latter was to do the work that Aboriginal CDEP participants were employed to do.
    Failure to perform both duties led to dismissal, or stress related medical conditions.
    Yes RJCP was a joke but very disheartening for the job service staff rather than their Aboriginal clients.
    The new plan to engage remote Aboriginal people in work will put pressure on local employers such as stores and schools to “employ” more staff and managers will be in the firing line if they report absences and pay is cut.
    Supervising the reluctant employees will be very difficult and time consuming.
    For all the rhetoric about wanting jobs there is little evidence that remote Aboriginal residents want to embrace work and they certainly will resist performing it for the dole.

  4. @ Bill. I note you’ve picked your words very carefully saying CDEP created “an employment path for many …” Apart from all the painted rocks around communities, how about listing the notable CDEP successes (jobs, not employment paths) to back up your claim.
    @ Bob. Are you suggesting that Scullion’s “mischief” is a back-door attempt to encourage people to move to larger centres, reduce remote community populations and in time, allow government to scale back funding for remote communities?
    CDEP was a dud, RJCP was an even bigger dud. I doubt CDP will break the mold.
    But like the other programs: some whitefellas will get rich; all the blackfellas will know that some whitefellas and one or two blackfellas will get rich; the other blackfellas know they will still be able to resist the rules of a slightly different game; the whitefellas will tick all the boxes that need to be ticked, nothing will change on communities and in two to three years’ time the program will be dumped in favour of another better idea because the preceding program didn’t work.
    Keeps the local economy ticking over, but will not achieve much more than that.

  5. It is great that the government is encouraging unemployed people to develop a work ethic by doing things to support their communities whilst on the dole.
    But this program needs to be implemented across Australia – for all unemployed people.
    Many communities across Australia have the problem of inter generational unemployment and poor education outcomes.
    Many communities have low job vacancies, especially for low or unskilled workers.
    Many communities have people satisfied with living on “sit down money”.
    We as a society have failed them all, including our remote Aboriginal communities.
    We need to support them in re-engaging with society and making a contribution to the development of their communities.
    The Community Development and Employment program strived to do that. It is sad though that programs that were beginning to work well by engaging unemployed people in meaningful tasks, setting up job enterprises, inspiring people to make decisions about making improvements for their communities, and developing the literacy, communication and numeracy skills of participants to achieve this was scrapped I favour of RJCP.
    Sadly though, many highly skilled trainers who had developed deep knowledge of their local Aboriginal communities and developed positive working relationships with their unemployed clients were no longer “required” in the cost cutting RJCP environment.
    The government needs to acknowledge that many unemployed people will never achieve full time employment due to lack of suitable jobs and poor education. (If all the unemployed people moved into their regional centres seeking work, the unemployment problem would still be there and social problems would be increased.
    Unemployment Programs need to
    • be run across Australia.
    • run longer than a few years to be able to make generational change.
    • focus on unemployed people’s and their community’s aspirations.
    • ensure that educational deficits of communicating in both English and Community languages are remediated by giving training in literacy and numeracy in English and home language.
    • recognise that many of our school leavers, leave school without functional literacy and numeracy skills and therefore need to run until our education system gets their act together.
    • be funded properly and monitored carefully to ensure that this increment is not wasted, as happened in many CDEP programs.
    • maintain data on the effectiveness of successfully engaging unemployed people and their growth along the literacy and numeracy skills continuum.
    And to achieve this these programs need to employ skilled professionals. It is my experience that many of the job training organisations lack skilled professional and visionary leadership and fail to direct resources into employing even better skilled trainers.

  6. When CDEP started in the 1970s it went into communities which agreed that everyone except pensioners would be part of the scheme, it was all in or nobody.
    The effect of the policy was to give the local community control over the bulk of social security income, allowing those who work the most to get paid most and those who wanted to do nothing get paid little – a great success.
    In well managed communities CDEP was great, but in the late 1980s government policy was changed as a cost saving measure to allow the scheme to be spread to urban centres – not a great success.
    That policy change which reduced the number of people who could work for CDEP set up a structure where the dole competed with CDEP and those who didn’t want to contribute to the community could get the dole – a disaster in hindsight.
    The scheme went downhill thereafter until we got to the very expensive and unsuccessful outsourced RJCP that has been universally condemned.
    The arrangement just announced by Scullion is probably better than the way RJCP currently operates, but while it is outsourced to businesses managed outside the community it will fail to meet one of the first principles of management – take you customer with you.
    The crisis facing remote communities is governance and insufficient attention is being given to improving it.
    Whilst governments centralise the management of services in Canberra and Darwin, failing to engage on a professional level with remote Indigenous communities their policies and programs will continue to perform poorly.
    The Federal government has dismantled its once competent field operations and no longer has to implement its policies whatever they might be.
    And on a practical issue, if governments do make it too hard for Traditional Owners to live on country, how will the Territory cope with perhaps 30,000 people who are unlikely to be employed living on the outskirts of the major urban centres like Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs?
    Getting Cranky.

  7. @Bill Medley: Philosopher George Santayara once said those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
    I am going to assume this also applies to memory lapses of convenience.
    I think the CLP is also learning that it’s a bugger when your karma runs over your dogma, as Kathy Lette once said.

  8. Well, I agree with Nigel. We have to start somewhere. The sit down money has to stop. People need to work, no bludging.
    Where are all the royalty cheques going, and the profits from cattle stations, and the very profitable businesses in Alice Springs?
    As for saying that there is no work in communities these people can build their own houses and repair, the ones wrecked, then there can’t be any complaints about the houses. Go to the Aboriginal council for funding, for they have millons in the bank. And would be just too happy to help their own countrymen?

  9. Nice spray, Freddie (Fred the Philistine, Posted June 6, 2015 at 1:14 pm):
    “We have to start somewhere. … People need to work, no bludging.” Who could disagree with that?
    Trouble is, Nigel hasn’t got a clue about how to achieve it, and has proven that with his simplistic toing and froing over the last 18 months of being in charge.
    “Where are all the royalty cheques going?” Well, the royalty cheques go to the traditional owners, hundreds of them, sometimes thousands, who are entitled to share the profits of the particular enterprises, or direct their accountants to invest it on their behalf.
    Same as with share holders in BHP or Telstra. That’s the private enterprise system in operation, extending itself into the Aboriginal community. The mining company profits might seem huge, the total royalties might be large, but the actual payout per shareholder is relatively small.
    “Where are the profits from cattle stations?” Again, in the few cases where there are any significant profits from Aboriginal owned cattle stations, those profits are distributed amongst the owners (i.e. shareholders), or directed into reinvestment by their owners.
    “Where are the profits from the very profitable businesses in Alice Springs?” Try to get your head around the fact that particular land trusts and family groups ultimately own these investments: they are not the property of “the Land Council” or Centrecorp or “the Aboriginal community” or “the traditional owners” as a whole: they are the property and profits of defined individuals represented by discrete legal entities. Only the owners can decide what to do with their money and assets.
    If a few hundred of them agreed thirty years ago to allow a gold miner to dig up and sell the gold from their country, in return for a small portion of the profits, and they invested a lot of those royalties, via Centrecorp investment trusts, in Kittle Motors or Yeperenye Centre so that they could go on receiving an income stream after the gold ran out ten years ago, that is their right.
    It is also wise of them to conserve some of that investment and grow it so that their descendants have a bit of income at times in their lives. These profits and royalty payouts are widely distributed amongst the owning families and affected neighbours, so individuals are generally not receiving large sums.
    They often divert some of this money into “community development funds”: thus they get the community education centres and computer cafes, swimming pools and recreation sheds, scholarships and youth centres in some communities that are lucky enough to have enough royalties flowing to enable these investments.
    So it is not sensible to say “Go to the Aboriginal council for funding, for they have millions in the bank.” The Land Council is not the owner of those funds, it is simply the go-between assisting in the negotiation of agreements and fair and just operations of the system.

  10. The corporate Land Trusts own their land, thus also own buildings and houses constructed upon their land. Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) legislation has enabled them to escape accountability.
    As NOT so responsible land-owners ALR(NT) corporate land-lords fail to maintain their housing to the same standards required from other land-owners and landlord agents around the nation including Alice Springs.
    Other land-owners, agents, also risk loss of income, loss of their land, their homes, their businesses, even loss of liberty, in available penalties for various neglects.
    The ALR(NT) land-lords risk nothing. They, too, need to risk loss to ensure their houses and buildings are properly maintained.
    Not so responsible ALR(NT) corporate landlords’ ongoing refusals to provide conventional tenancy leases remains a tactic to avoid accepting responsibility to maintain their houses and buildings.
    Commonwealth Intervention attempted to enforce leases being issued, Commonwealth failed to amend the ALR(NT) to require conventional tenancy leases be issued.
    Commonwealth government maintains its neglect of these tenants’ rights thus shares responsibility.
    Conventional tenancy leases deny landlords the right to segregate families on racial and other grounds, including the ALR(NT) Land Trusts practicing apartheid.
    To most it is clear reasonable tenancy leases, with risk of loss, enable and produce more businesses, more employment opportunities, with generally better standards of housing, tenants and communities.

  11. Bob Durnan: The “private” ownership of the Centrecorp millions sits uneasily with the extent to which the Federal government has funded it.
    An ATSIC grant part funded the purchase of the Peter Kittle Motor Company and another one helped buy a stake in the Kings Canyon Resort.
    And while the CLC cannot receive any benefit from Centrecorp it does have the power to use Centrecorp funds for any charitable purpose that assists Aboriginal people as it sees fit.
    The statement “Go to the Aboriginal council for funding, for they have millions in the bank” is not based on mistaken logic as you make out.

  12. Joan (Posted June 7, 2015 at 4:39 pm) accurately points out that a small proportion of investments overseen by Centrecorp (by which I mean the Centrecorp Aboriginal Investment Corporation Pty Ltd) are derived originally from Federal government-sourced grants and loans.
    The fact that Centrecorp AIC P/L manages its own portfolio of investments, and channels profits from these into the charitable Centrecorp Foundation, does not contradict the thrust of my argument.
    The vast majority of Centrecorp AIC’s work is the management of portfolios of assets for other indigenous organisations, most of which are owned by land trusts.
    Centrecorp AIC is not free to use the land trusts’ funds, or other funds which it helps manage on behalf of other Aboriginal corporations, any way that it sees fit.
    Also Joan, it is simply wrong to claim that the CLC “does have the power to use Centrecorp funds for any charitable purpose that assists Aboriginal people as it sees fit.”
    For a start, the CLC is a minority shareholder in the Centrecorp Foundation charitable trust, which has an income of around $1.5 million per year. CLC appoints a minority of the Foundation’s directors, and cannot direct them how to vote.
    As the Centrecorp website plainly states: “Centrecorp is the trustee of two charitable trusts, but the trusts’ deeds specifically exclude any of the shareholders from benefiting in any way from the trusts. Indeed, the shareholders do not have any specific rights to appoint Directors to the Board of Centrecorp.”
    Therefore the statement “Go to the Aboriginal council for funding, for they have millions in the bank” is, in fact, both misleading and ignorant.

  13. The small proportion of government grants were not small in dollar terms, nearly $4 million for the Kings Canyon purchase for a start.
    Was it really the Federal government’s intention for its grants and loans to be funnelled into a secretive organisation that appears to have no obligation to fund anything at all, except substantial fees for its directors, such as the CEO of the Land Council?
    Of course any well heeled organisation can pay smart accountants and lawyers to engineer an arms length arrangement.
    They can create a legally compliant, wealthy corporate empire that technically isn’t owned by the CLC, makes its own decisions and isn’t required to distribute its profits to Aboriginal people as would be expected of a charitable trust.
    This may be technically / legally OK.
    But it’s just plain wrong to have so much money accumulating without benefiting Aboriginal people beyond a few charitable grants.
    Aboriginal people are left to turn to the taxpayer – the same source of much of Centrecorp’s wealth in the first place.
    At the very least Centrecorp should be made to repay all its government grants and backpay commercial interest rates on its loans and give up its charitable tax status.

  14. @ Joan: I would have to agree with you as I see it. You have only hit the tip of the iceberg. As I drive past the council chambers in the mornings I see church and social workers feeding hungry people, but do not see any people from Aboriginal council there.
    As I drive past the Aboriginal council building I see 50 eighty thousand dollar four wheel drives and have never seen any of these vehicles stop and give an indigenous person in a walking frame a lift home.
    It is estimated the Aboriginal land council receives royalties of between $40m to $50m a year.
    The average indigenous persons receives very little as, Bob has said.
    Some people’s royalties are very little. As I ran into recipient in the street a few months ago he said I am rich.
    My reply was how do mean? Then he opened his wallet with basics card and a cheque for $270,000.
    I asked him what he was going to do with it and he said I am going to buy six motor vehicles for family. My reply was good luck.
    It gets better: that night I see him getting free food outside council chambers.

  15. Joan (Posted June 9, 2015 at 10:54 am) still doesn’t get it.
    Joan, it’s you that is “just plain wrong”: the trusts which Centrecorp helps manage do not have vast amounts of “money accumulating without benefiting Aboriginal people”. They each distribute assistance to their own beneficiaries, as they legally must, on a regular basis.
    Centrecorp AIC P/L is a private company separate to these trusts. It is not “a secretive organisation”. It is an investment advisory company, which also has some investments of its own.
    The government seeded a couple of its investments many years ago.
    The CEO of the Land Council ceased to be a Centrecorp director years ago as well.
    The great majority of the funds which it helps administer are still subject to their own strict legal requirements.
    Centrecorp does distribute profits from its own investments to Aboriginal people, via the Centrecorp Foundation charitable trust.
    How the members and directors of these trusts invest and distribute their own funds is their own business.

  16. Bob Durnan. We agree that Centrecorp is a private company.
    You say that “The government seeded a couple of its investments many years ago”.
    In fact the Federal Government has granted this private company a total of $25 million of tax payer funds.
    The Federal Government also provided cheap loans to this private company.
    As a result of taxpayer generosity Centrecorp now has more than $50 million in accumulated assets.
    It provides charitable donations but provided hardly any until it was audited and told to do so.
    It said it was going to assist Aboriginal people get jobs but its record of providing jobs for Aboriginal people in the businesses it owns is very poor.
    You say that “ow the members and directors of these trusts invest and distribute their own funds is their own business”.
    These funds may legally be “their own” but this is an outrageous misuse and misappropriation of tax payer money.

  17. @ Joan. Well said. I envisage that there would be a lot of people who agree with you. What I can see, what these two corporations have done for their own people is an absolute disgrace.

  18. An interesting discussion for one who knows little about the topic. I feel I am learning more about it from people who are far better informed.
    I was taken by this comment from “Fred the Philistine”: “My reply was how do mean? Then he opened his wallet with basics card and a cheque for $270,000. I asked him what he was going to do with it and he said I am going to buy six motor vehicles for family. My reply was good luck. It gets better: that night I see him getting free food outside council chambers.”
    This anecdotal comment would have more credence if “Fred” was prepared to put his name to it. Otherwise I can’t see my way clear to take it as face value. Be a Goliath, Fred, have the courage of your convictions. Anonymous anecdotes are little better than scribblings on a dunny wall, apparently there are other local forums that cater for this.
    I admire Bob Durnan for his preparedness to put his name to his not always popular comments.
    Credit to all who are civic-minded enough not to hide behind nom de plumes. We don’t live in Russia or Saudi Arabia, no assassinations or 1000 lashes here.

  19. All responsible media identify and protect their sources.
    Unfortunately the use of an alias is essential to avoid the vindictive abuse of power.
    Such abuse of power requires and deserves coverage.
    Royal Commissions frequently require anonymity to obtain the evidence and the public discussion often with such anonymity to obtain political, administrative,legislative and public attention to fix problems.
    Most such problems clearly tolerated at management and legislative levels until sufficient public attention, even outrage demanding improvements are clear.
    The government funded “Indigenous” industry more about milking problems than resolving them.

  20. “The government funded ‘Indigenous’ industry more about milking problems than resolving them.”
    Yes, that is indeed the case Paul Parker.

  21. @ Ian and Bob: Ian, you don’t need to knpw my name, but people do need to know the truth as to what are these Aboriginal corporations doing for their own people.
    After 40 years, why are the majority still relying on sit down money, bludging on the rest of the country?
    Majority have very poor hygiene and education, health etc etc.
    What people can see in Alice Springs is thay every time royalty money is due, there are brand new vehicles bought.
    Not bad for people being on welfare driving $60,000 to $80,000 vehicles around. Why aren’they income tested?
    As Bob said these royalty cheques are only small, so it won’t be a problem to income test these people.
    As a white man I would certainly have to claim this income on my tax.
    Bob, since these corporations are doing a lot for the community, can you please tell me if they are going to pay for the damages to the Harts Range Police station? Bying the Memo Club was irrisponsible, as they are aware of the drinking problems in this town.
    The problems at the Memo Club have gotten out of hand.
    It has shifted the problem from Todd Tavern to the Memo. Now you see people drunk in the park, on the streets. It is certainly a good tourist attraction.

  22. To resolve lack of employment in communities reasonable leases for homes and businesses must be provided.
    Such leases are effectively NOT provided.
    While “Traditional Owners” as shareholders of Land Trusts continue refusals to issue reasonable leases, little will change.
    Commonwealth needs amend the Aboriginal Landrights Act (NT) to require conventional leases being issued.
    Refusal to require leases maintains apartheid.
    Until then Land Trusts and “Traditional Owner” shareholders need be fully accountable and responsible to provide ALL services within their private property communities.
    Commonwealth needs to start suing the Land Trusts for failure to maintain basic standards in housing.
    Commonwealth needs cease public funding, except where providing same assistance to other private landowners.
    Commonwealth appointed Land Councils to be the real estate agents for the Land Trusts.
    Corporate Land Trusts need to act with advice from their statutory agent Land Councils.
    Both Land Trusts and Land Council’s need be held accountable for consequences arising from their decisions.
    Source: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/alrta1976444/s4.html
    Commonwealth legislation: ABORIGINAL LAND RIGHTS (NORTHERN TERRITORY) ACT 1976 – SECT 4
    Land Trusts
    – – – Extract – Start – – –
    Legal status of Land Trust
    (3) A Land Trust:
    (a) is a body corporate, with perpetual succession;
    (b) shall have a common seal;
    (c) subject to this Part, may acquire, hold and dispose of real and personal property; and
    (d) may sue and be sued in its corporate name.
    – – – Extract – End – – –
    Commonwealth needs to sue Land Trusts and Land Councils where they deny rights their tenants otherwise hold as Australians.
    Commonwealth needs cease its ongoing refusal of legal aid which prevents Land Trusts and Land Councils being sued on these issues.
    Instead the Commonwealth plots another constitutional amendment to defend and support their claimed right to qualify our rights and responsibilities as Australians by racial tagging.


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