The Community Development Program (CDP)

The Community Development Program (CDP) is our remote employment and community development service. CDP supports job seekers in remote Australia to build skills, address barriers and contribute to their communities through a range of flexible activities. It is designed around the unique social and labour market conditions in remote Australia and is an essential part of the Australian Government’s agenda for increasing employment and breaking the cycle of welfare dependency.

Under the current CDP, job seekers with activity requirements are expected to complete up to 25 hours per week of work-like activities that benefit their community. CDP offers a broad range of flexible activities to increase job seekers’ skills and contribute to their community.

Since its introduction, CDP has supported job seekers into thousands of jobs. Job seeker participation and engagement has also grown significantly since the start of the program.

Program reforms

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs announced reforms to the Community Development Program (CDP) as part of the 2018-19 Budget.

CDP reforms actively seek to address challenges faced by job seekers living in remote Australia and include enhancements to the current Program. Changes to CDP will help more people living in remote Australia move into employment.

The reforms have been carefully developed and informed by discussions with communities and Indigenous leaders and focus on greater community control, better connections, and greater choice for CDP participants.

The reforms will be implemented in phases from March 2019.

The first phase of the reforms includes:

  • Introducing flexible hours.
  • Reducing participation hours up to 20 hours per week.
  • Supporting community advisory boards.
  • Establishing a capital investment fund.
  • Ensuring CDP is delivered by local Indigenous organisations.
  • Changing the provider payment model.
  • Subsidising 1000 new jobs for CDP participants.

The reforms first phase is aimed at increasing CDP participants’ attendance and reducing the number of penalties applied to remote job seekers as part of the current compliance framework.  

The remaining reforms will be implemented at a later stage, pending passage of legislation.

Greater community control

Remote Australians have told us they want more community control over how the program is delivered. We are strengthening local communities’ roles by:

  • Ensuring CDP is delivered by local Indigenous organisations.
  • Funding the purchase of capital items through the Capital Investment Fund to support communities to deliver activities.
  • Establishing community advisory boards or other local engagement mechanisms to provide advice on local service delivery.
  • Continuing to drive community engagement in the design and delivery of activities through our performance framework for providers.

Building better connections

We are working to connect more remote Australians to employment opportunities. As a part of the first phase of CDP reforms 1000 jobs will be subsidised for CDP participants. These jobs will be throughout remote Australia. 

Businesses operating in remote Australia, as well as Indigenous leaders are encouraged to use these subsidises to create new jobs for CDP participants. 

As part of the full suite of reforms, the Government is working with communities to support 6000 jobs for CDP participants.

These new jobs will grow the size and capacity of the remote labour market and support the development of more local businesses.

The subsidised jobs will mean CDP participants have access to real wages, equivalent to the minimum wage or above. They will no longer have to rely on welfare as their only source of income. These workers will also be paid superannuation and other entitlements by their employer.

Employers will receive up to $26,769 over two years to help expand their business and hire new staff in remote Australia. This includes a subsidy of up to $21,769 and retention bonuses of up to $5000 (if employers keep the same employee for two years).

These 6000 job subsidies will be available to most Australian businesses operating in remote Australia.

Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about how this initiative could help your business to expand in remote Australia.

Greater choice and employment pathways

There are opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote Australia to use CDP to foster self-employment and small business development. Unique social and market conditions in remote Australia present opportunities for self-employment, but mean tailored support to improve business skills, access to business networks and capital, and link business development with community economic development priorities, is required. There is already lots of work being done to support more entrepreneurial activity and economic development remote locations. Through the Indigenous Business Sector Strategy (IBSS) the Government will support remote Australia by:

  • Piloting a business incubation model in selected CDP regions to assist participants foster self-employment opportunities and turn their activities into small businesses.
  • Expanding microbusiness support to more remote and regional areas to support Indigenous Australians take the first step into entrepreneurship.

CDP providers participating in the incubator pilot will support jobseekers who have a business idea with culturally appropriate, tailored business advice. Providers will be able to link supported start-ups to potential sources of capital and resources such as Many Rivers Microfinance, Indigenous Business Australia, the Indigenous Entrepreneurs Fund, or Capital Investment Fund to be established as part of the first phase of reforms.

Where CDP operates

CDP covers 75 percent of Australia’s land mass including over 1000 communities. The Program supports around 30,000 people.

Local service providers deliver the Program and act as the single point of contact for job seekers, employers and host organisations in each community.

To find the contact details of the provider in your local area, you can use the Australian Government’s Jobsearch tool, which allows you to enter your town or postcode.

CDP participants

CDP participants receive personalised assistance from their service provider to help build their skills, get a job and to participate to their maximum capacity. Some of the activities available for CDP participants include formal training, with the opportunity to gain qualifications, or foundational skills training, including language, literacy and numeracy and driver’s training, as part of their activity requirement.

More information

  • For enquires about the CDP in your region, contact your local provider or the PM&C Regional Network.
  • For general enquires about the CDP please email cdp@pmc.gov.au.
  • You can contact the Employment Services Information Line (ESIL) 13 62 68 for general information on employment services and the CDP.
  • The Department of Jobs and Small Business’ Employment Services National Customer Service Line (NCSL) 1800 805 260 can help with questions about jobactive, the Government's employment services program that operates outside remote Australia.
  • For general enquires or feedback about the changes to remote employment services, email: nationalcustomerserviceline@jobs.gov.au. Complaints can be sent to complaints@pmc.gov.au.

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