By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT want 12,000 jobs to be created in remote areas while some 1200 positions at the Newmont gold mine north-east of Alice Springs are filled by FiFo workers from around Australia.
Only a handful of workers are from the nearby township of Yuendumu, an issue that has led to a lively debate in the past few weeks after an upswing of crime and the earlier alleged murder of a young man by police.
APO NT welcomed the release this week of the Senate inquiry report into the Community Development Program which was found it “cannot and should not continue in its current form … with this top-down, punitive and discriminatory program.
“There should be a move away from the compliance and penalty model towards a jobseeker program creating and sustaining real local jobs.”
Real jobs – in other words, work such as what Newmont provides.
The News has put questions to through a policy officer to the head of the Central Land Council, Les Turner: Has the CLC asked Newmont why they don’t employ Yuendumu people? Did CLC ask Yuendumu people why they are not working there?
Should there be withdrawal of welfare payments from people not accepting work offered?
“CDP affects the lives of around 29,000 Indigenous people and has caused immense harm,” says APO NT.
The CDP is the main program of job related assistance for unemployed people in remote areas of Australia. It is the equivalent of jobactive (formerly JSA) and Disability Employment Services in the rest of the country.
The CDP has around 35,000 participants, around 83% of whom are identified as Indigenous.
Despite having a caseload less than a twentieth the size of jobactive, more penalties are applied to CDP participants than to jobactive participants.
In the 21 months from the start of CDP on 1 July 2015 to the end of March 2017, financial penalties amounting to 299,055 were applied to CDP participants. Over the same period, 237,333 financial penalties were applied to jobactive participants.
APO NT says more than $300m is currently paid to employment providers to manage ‘activities’ for unemployed people, “when what people really want is a chance for proper paid work.”