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Indigenous work program reform under scrutiny

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 22 February 2005

A far north Queensland Indigenous leader is seeking more information on a proposal to reform the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) which provides Aboriginal work for the dole schemes.

The Federal Government has suggested changes including linking welfare payments to the Job Network and greater emphasis on shared responsibility agreements.

Yarrabah Aboriginal Community chairman Vince Mundraby says he will meet department representatives this week.

"The bottom line is whether we would still have the opportunity or how does cultural heritage activities fit into the whole scheme of things, especially seeing as though we're moving from program-based to outcome-based - what is their interpretation of outcome?" he said.

But Federal Employment Minister Kevin Andrews has reassured CDEPs that they do have a future.

Mr Andrews was speaking at the national CDEP awards in Alice Springs last night.

He told the audience that changes must be made to the CDEP if it is to provide a genuine pathway to economic independence for Indigenous job seekers.

But he said the Government still supports the CDEP's basic structure.

"There will be no abolition of CDEP - neither will there be cuts to participant numbers or essential services," he said.

CDEP accounts for a quarter of the Indigenous workforce or 37,000 people.

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