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The Forum > Article Comments > Welfare stretcher at bottom of cliff > Comments

Welfare stretcher at bottom of cliff : Comments

By Sara Hudson, published 9/10/2008

Many Indigenous Australians languishing on CDEP will need a lot of training and support to meet real job responsibilities.

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Ms Hudson makes some very good points, but when she claims categorically that "CDEP is welfare, not proper work", she is being much less than accurate.

Although some CDEP projects operated as de facto welfare, it is misleading to suggest that they are/were necessarily such.

A great many CDEPs did provide real "proper" work to some or even all of their participants.

Many others provided real work some of the time, if not all of the time.

The blanket dismissal and demonising of CDEPs is arrogant, unhelpful, destructive and most importantly, simplistic and deceptive.

It lulls the uninformed public, politicians, academics and bureaucrats into thinking that there is some easy alternative way that only the superior genius of critics such as Ms Hudson (who is unlikely to have ever been the actual implementer or manager or superviser or evaluater of CDEPs) know about.

Further, when Ms Hudson claims "CDEP has been referred to disparagingly as 'sit down' money" she is again misrepresenting the facts.

Unemployment benefits, not CDEP, are the incomes that have been referred to colloquially for decades as "sit down money".

Elders in remote communities often campaigned for many years to get the introduction of CDEP as an alternative to UB, or "sit down money".

CDEPs may have often had many faults, but it helps nobody to misrepresent key facts in order to make your story more impressive.
Posted by Dan Fitzpatrick, Thursday, 9 October 2008 2:47:01 PM
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I have read Ms Hudson's articles with interest and mostly agree with her views. She does get a few minor things wrong as Dan Fitzpatrick has pointed out 'sit down' money refers to UB rather then CDEP, my wife's mob, Warlpiri, call it 'jaka' money that is 'bum' money for the same reason. After a lifetime of working in Indigenous Affairs and as an ATSIC senior project officer for several years with responsibility for the oversight of several CDEP projects I agree in general terms with what Ms Hudson says. It is my understanding that the program was initiated at the request of Aboriginal people who could see the futility of paying their young people 'money for nothing' that is passive welfare which we all know is deeply corrosive of morale and all other aspects of life. In some places CDEP worked well but not in many. In most it has failed and in many did not involve any work at all and in some lists of workers that didn't exist. It has always been rorted too often. Many structures that were set up in the 1970's and 80's have failed for the same reason. They were patchy, ad-hoc and under resourced often managed by incompetents and over sighted by incompetents in the funding agencies. We all failed. The problem is that once established any attempt to reform an institution, program indeed any structure will be greeted by passionate opposition from those who imagine that these structures were set up by Aboriginal people. Any attempt to change is therefore racist. They were all imposed by governments. There will always be those with vested interest in the maintenance of failed programs. Just get on with it and come up with something that works better. We are grief stricken enough, the body count is too high. Good on you Ms Hudson, keep up the good work and don't worry too much about minor errors. Everybody does that.

Dave Price
Posted by daprhys, Thursday, 9 October 2008 4:11:49 PM
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Until the alcohol and drug issues are dealt with seriously most in aboriginal communities will remain unemployable. Noel Pearson would be the best person to tackle these issues as he has the guts to stand up to the aboriginal industry which has been formed due to misplaced guilt by white fellas.

Whether it is white or black the family unit (father, mother, children) is the only stable building blocks for society. Many young black kids are abused because they have been abandoned by their own parents (the true abandoned generation). Functional families are almost extinct among aboriginals.

Any person in regional areas in NT, WA or QLD will confirm that young kids from 4 years old and upwards roam the street at night while parents drink 'sit down' money. They cost Governments unmentionable amounts of money in policing. Maybe it is white man's payback for introducing grog to these people.

Victim mentality (though they are victims) will keep anyone in bondage. The 'you owe me' mentality makes many of these people unemployable. This attitude justifies corruption in the mind of many people who have worked in ATSIC and other government funded gravy trains.I have spoken to some who believe it is okay to steal from white man because they honestly believe and have had it drummed into them that we 'stole' their land.

This article is well written and identifies correctly that Mr Rudd's current policies are not going to improve things one iota. Throwing millions more at the problem will solve nothing unless fundamental issues are dealt with. Supply all the teachers, health workers, police etc you like but unless the parents are first of all with the children and second sober it is more money down the trough.
Posted by runner, Thursday, 9 October 2008 5:33:10 PM
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Runner ,

If you supply the right sort of teachers ;the right sort of health workers and the right sort of police with those millions of dollars you will get results .

The communities must be supported .

The mining industry solves it's problems by paying double or triple the money - big problems to solve big problems equals big dollars and big results.

This idea that "throwing millions more at the problem isn't the answer" is just a racist excuse to do next to nothing and how many times have we heard it.

Poor management on OUR part is not an excuse .
Posted by kartiya jim, Saturday, 11 October 2008 4:28:47 PM
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