City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mayor John Bowler has supported research that shows the current Federal Government’s remote work-for-the-dole scheme is a failure – devastating Aboriginal communities and forcing the people into regional towns like Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) have described the Community Development Program as a “policy disaster” by causing extreme poverty in remote settlements.
Mayor Bowler says it is worse than that because it is the main reason why there are so many Aboriginal people living on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie-Boulder with nowhere to live or worse still, causing social problems by overcrowding accommodation of local relatives.
The ANU study found the scheme imposed financial penalties on people while they lived in their remote communities, where they could lose payments for not working in jobs that didn’t exist in their hometown.
Mayor Bowler says when the same people moved to the outskirts of towns such as Alice Springs, Laverton or Kalgoorlie-Boulder they were not expected to obtain employment because they did not have the support of living at ‘home’.
“The result is at home they are continually fined while here they are not. Is it any surprise this well-intended but ineffective policy is unwelcome throughout regional Australia.”
Mayor Bowler says he raised the need for the old program of Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) to be reintroduced to the Ngaanyatjarra Lands around Warburton when he met the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion a year ago.
“At the time he said that is what was going to happen but I think once he got back to Canberra there was a change of heart.
“The minister appears to know that the current scheme is a disaster here and at last month’s Summit in the Kalgoorlie Town Hall he indicated it would be scrapped early in the New Year.”
“During a recent visit to Warburton community, leaders reiterated what the ANU study has found; that when payments are withheld people struggle to feed themselves and often live off the generosity of their neighbours.”
“Kalgoorlie-Boulder could get an early Christmas present if the scheme was scrapped forthwith and there was a return to CDEP.”