Statement on Centre Alliance position on CDP Bill

Statement on Centre Alliance position on CDP Bill

Centre Alliance will not support the proposed Social Security Legislation Amendment (Community Development Program) Bill 2018 in its current form for the following reasons;

  • The Government’s own projections for their proposed redesign of the compliance framework show that they expect 25 per cent of Community Development Program (CDP) participants to be cut off income support for four weeks; a program which sets up a quarter of its participants to fail is not a well-designed program.
  • The weekly mutual obligation requirements under the CDP are already twice as high as those in Job Active. (CDP requires up to 25 hours work-for-the-dole per week for 52 weeks of the year, with up to 6 weeks leave; versus the Job Active requirement of up to 25 hours work-for-the-dole per week for 26 weeks of the year).
  • Since the CDP was introduced, the compliance process has already been substantially tightened, with the number of financial penalties applied increasing more than seven times (from 5,900 per quarter to over 45,000 per quarter).
  • An overly punitive compliance framework risks forcing people off the system altogether and into poverty. Access to Centrelink to resolve administrative issues or to reapply for payments after serving penalties is exceptionally difficult for remote communities.

Centre Alliance's Spokesperson for Social Services, Rebekha Sharkie, said the program disproportionally affected Aboriginal people.

"More than 80 per cent of participants in this program are Indigenous," Rebekha said.

“We know that Aboriginal people are overrepresented in the justice system and these planned changes to the CDP would negatively impact an already disadvantaged community.

“We met extensively with stakeholders on this issue as well as meeting with the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion.

“However, based on the evidence before us, Centre Alliance cannot support the planned changes to the CDP program.

"The stated intent of the Bill is to increase engagement but the punitive nature of the legislation does the opposite.

“Further, we urge the Government to work constructively with the Aboriginal community to create a meaningful and culturally appropriate jobs program."