Saturday Three: Health Successes, Virtual Gudjal, and CDEP Cessation Silliness

[Image credit: FPWA, via ANTaR]

ANTaR, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation, is an independent network of organisations and individuals (mostly non-indigenous) working in support of justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia.

Check out ANTaR’s Success Stories in Indigenous Health. From the foreword:

Not so many reports highlight the good news – the success stories that demonstrate that change for the better is possible and highlighting the active role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples themselves are seizing in identifying and implementing solutions.

The success stories include a Cape York family well-being programme building community strength and resilience and combatting family violence, a Townsville mums and babies programme showing dramatic improvements in infant health, a Derby drop-in centre offering healthy meals to young people and nutrition education, a Yarra Valley community nutrition programme and community garden, a scholarship programme for Aboriginal people training to become healthcare workers, and programmes addressing drug use, sexual health, healthy housing, community violence and bullying, healing from trauma, chronic illness management, and lots more.


[Image credit: William Santo, Gudjal Book of Animals]

The State Library of Queensland has launched a Virtual Books project. Right now there is a sampling of eight books, including three picture books designed by William Santo to help teach the Northern Queensland Gudjal language to children.

[The books require Flash, and include audio to help with pronunciation. If you’re as confused by the controls as I am – you have to close the Info window in order to open the book.]


In ABC Opinion: Jon Altman condemns the scrapping of NT CDEP community development and employment programmes: “Scrapping CDEP is just plain dumb”

Ministers Joe Hockey and Mal Brough’s decision to abolish the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme in remote Indigenous communities in the NT will have marked impacts on the arts industry, the management of Indigenous Protected Areas, and community based Caring for Country ranger projects.

And it’s not just these success stories that will suffer; it’s likely that there will be wider local, regional and national costs from this myopic, ill-considered, policy shift.
CDEP was first introduced to remote Indigenous communities as a progressive and mixed community development, employment creation and income support scheme. I noted then that its part-time characteristics might suit Indigenous people who may want flexible employment with the capacity to enhance income through additional market engagement like arts production and sale; or through participation in the customary (non-market) wildlife harvesting sector to generate livelihood benefits. In reality, most of the 5,000 Indigenous artists in the NT, as well as 400 community-based rangers in the Top End, are all CDEP participants.

The beauty of the scheme is that it maximises individual choice; participants could work part-time for a minimum income or work full-time and overtime if they were income maximisers. Now, as in the early 1970s, Indigenous people’s choice is being unilaterally and heavily circumscribed: they can participate in the mainstream ‘real’ economy or be welfare recipients.
One part of the agenda seems to be to sacrifice CDEP positions, many that generate extra hours of work and extra income, to bring participants and their earnings under the single system of quarantining that will apply to welfare payments. It is as if the Government is happy to sacrifice work and income to deal with a perceived expenditure problem: cash is spent on unacceptable goods.

Another part of the agenda seems to be to further depoliticise Indigenous organisations, in this case robust CDEP organisations, perhaps to give government-appointed community administrators greater powers.

Altman is spot on. Brough openly stated on the Living Black program that his goal with punitive welfare programs is to get cash out of Aboriginal communities, to reduce black people’s incomes. If Aboriginal people have jobs that pay real money, this circumvents his plan to remove money from Aboriginal people – there’s not (yet) a wage-garnishing programme in place for Aboriginal people who “misbehave”.

There are some comments on the article from people who have worked in remote communities, including with CDEP programmes.

Felicity Wright says:

Dumb is one possible way of describing the decision to abolish CDEP in remote communities in such a ridiculously short time frame. Even five years would have been rushed. I’d be more inclined to say ‘extraordinarily stupid’ or ‘incredibly opportunistic’ or most accurately ‘a dereliction of duty of care to Indigenous Australians in remote communities’.
As a person who has spent the last 20 years working in and with more than 40 remote communities throughout Australia in a range of capacities including administrator, researcher, facilitator, consultant and change manager I have seen many CDEP projects up close and personal. The ranger program in Wadeye (Port Keats) visited just months ago is a case in point. Engaged, excited people of all ages out and about in country, active, proud and contributing.

Greg Flynn says:

… the wholesale scrapping of CDEP is a recipe for boredom and social dysfunction.

and from Max Klarenbeek:

The photo of the person on your front page is one of our ladies working on a fencing contract. This meaningful work. The dole is regarded as a “Shame Job” In our community CDEP is real work. we strictly adhere to a no-work no-pay policy. CDEP provide Pride in acheivement, Self esteem and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Through our various contracts it also provide the opportunity to earn some extra money.

The scrapping of CDEP will eventually result in an other dysfuntional community in the making. Perhaps we should be looking at the dysfunctionallity of the various Government Department in dealing with aboriginal affairs.

A lot of problems in communities can be attributed to a lack of good managers and strong community councils/boards.

Our community works well, no grog or other major problems, 60 kids go to school every day, among other things we run a School nutrition program, a dental health program, a Civil Construction program, Goats and chooks.

All of this is held together by the CDEP program. The CDEP program is the bonding agent.

Categories: culture wars, education, health, indigenous, Politics, social justice

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1 reply

  1. Nice round-up Lauredhel. I find the scrapping of the CDEP program to be the most meatheaded response of all contained in the indigenous emergency plan. I would not be surprised at all if there is a strong correlation between communities with high CDEP participation and lower rates of the sexual abuse problems that the emergency plan is meant to be addressing. But the idea that CDEP is already countering such problems and ought to be extended doesn’t enter Brough’s worldview.

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