Labor will abolish the “discriminatory, punitive and ineffective” community development program as part of a reconciliation action plan to increase opportunities for Indigenous Australians, Senator Pat Dodson has announced, The Guardian reports.
Labor’s Indigenous caucus unveiled the plan on the second day of its 48th national conference. Dodson and the party’s leader, Bill Shorten, promised to make Labor “the party of choice for first Australians” by boosting representation and delivering a voice to parliament.
Labor party senator for the Northern Territory Malarndirri McCarthy described the reconciliation action plan as a reflection of “systemic change” in the party, while MP Linda Burney promised it would introduce practical measures to ensure Indigenous Australians had a voice in the Labor party, parliament and Australian society.
Shorten said Labor was not the only party to have advanced Indigenous rights, but had “been in the lead more often than not”. He cited Kevin Rudd’s apology to the stolen generations as part of a compact not just to redress past wrongs but to “do better in the future”.
Dodson announced Labor would abolish the CDP, a program unions and welfare groups have argued is “blatantly discriminatory” because 83% of its 35,000 participants are Indigenous, and it imposes higher requirements than the work for the dole scheme does. As a condition of income support, remote-area participants must engage in up to 25 hours of work activities a week.
Dodson said Labor would replace the CDP with a new program to be “co-designed” with First Nations people and restore the principle of “community control and direction”.
The two-year reconciliation action plan includes cultural sensitivity training for Labor staff, facilitating networking for First Nations people through Labor events, and aiming to boost Indigenous outcomes in employment and contracting.