23 December 2021, Guardian Australia, Luke Henriques-Gomes. Access the full article here.

Indigenous leaders argued participants faced tougher welfare penalties than those in other parts of Australia

The federal government will pay a traditional owners corporation representing some of the poorest communities in Australia more than $2m after settling a class action that argued the remote “work for the dole” program was racist.

The Community Development Program (CDP) has required about 30,000 jobseekers in remote communities to work up to 25 hours a week to receive the dole.

Participants, 80% of whom were Aboriginal, were said to have faced tougher welfare penalties than those in other parts of Australia.

After sustained criticism from Indigenous leaders who claimed the program was racist and even “modern-day slavery”, Western Australia’s Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku and the Ngaanyatjarra council launched a class action in 2019 on behalf of 680 CDP participants.

For communities with high costs of living and high levels of poverty, it was very difficult, very stressful… That’s why we’re glad the commonwealth has had a good look at it and seen the problems it is causing.

– Damien McLean, President of Ngaanyatjarraku Shire

Employment services survey

The Punishment for Profit report is based on hundreds of responses to surveys conducted by the Antipoverty Centre. This research is ongoing. If you are in Workforce Australia, Disability Employment Services or a similar program, we welcome any information you are able to share about your experiences.

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