Tangentyere Council has been delivering a successful Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) program in Alice Springs since June 1990. Tangentyere has delivered CDEP to the most disadvantaged sector in the region, the residents of the 18 Town Camps in Alice Springs. Over that time the CDEP has provided a range of projects aimed at addressing the priorities of these communities, namely community development, training and employment. CDEP initially operated from demountables located in 4 Elder Street but with the expansion of the program in the 1990s it required larger premises and so relocated to 10 Brown Street in 2000. For that period of time until 2005 CDEP operated as the major program of the now defunct ATSIC. From 2005 until the present CDEP has become specifically a transition to employment program funded Federally under firstly DEEWR and more recently FAHCSIA. This heralded a great change in CDEP nationally as the program was removed from the major urban centres and greatly reduced in regional and remote areas.
The greatest changes came when, in June 2007, the Federal government announced the Northern Territory Emergency Response as a consequence of the “Little Children are Sacred Report”. As part of the ensuing intervention process Tangentyere CDEP was closed down the week before the Federal election in November 2007. All participants were then transitioned into the welfare system. In April 2008 the new Federal government announced that all CDEPs closed as part of the NTER would reopen. The government made a decision to conduct a review of CDEP with a view to reforming the delivery of this very important program.
Tangenteyere CDEP recommenced operations on July 1 2008. The new Federal Government decided to allow the old CDEP to operate for a further 12 months while it reviewed the whole program nationally. A new Reformed CDEP model was put out to competitive tender in early 2009. Many CDEPs around the country closed down as a result. CDEP was retained in Alice Springs but the number of providers was reduced from three to one.
In March, 2009 Tangentyere successfully tendered to deliver CDEP in Alice Springs under a three year contract and is now the only such provider in town. Our contract covers Alice Springs town to within a 25 kilometre radius and the town camps. CDEP has 150 clients on its caseload. On July 1 2009 the new CDEP program commenced with 100% of our participants on CDEP wages. New participants who join CDEP after that date cannot receive wages but must be on Newstart benefits. The numbers of wage recipients has been declining rapidly since that time. As of September 2010 only 25 wage recipients remained. It is expected that all wage earners will be gone by the end of June 2011 leaving 100% of our participants on Newstart. This may be interpreted as the government successfully completing a policy of ‘work to welfare’ for the Indigenous community work program.
Under the current contract most of our clients are allocated to the Work Readiness Stream and are being prepared to enter the workforce. CDEP arranges for training to be delivered to participants through ASEATS and other training bodies. CDEP receives clients from our JSA, prepares them for work with ASEATS then places them into employment. Many of our participants receive special assistance from ASEATS through the Indigenous Employment Program.
CDEP is working closely with Territory Alliance (TA), the successful tenderer for the SIHIP (housing construction project) in Alice Springs. TES has developed a Memorandum of Understanding with TA to prepare and deliver the Indigenous component of the total workforce required over the next two years. This could mean over 100 jobs for town camp residents who are willing to engage in our programs.
In the first year of operation our major employment project was the ISCIP (Indigenous Skills for Construction Industry Project). This was a collaborative project between CDEP, JSA, Tangentyere Constructions, ASEATS, Tangentyere Housing, Centre for Appropriate Technology and Territory Alliance. ISCIP ran for one year from August 2009. Twenty-four CDEP participants undertook Certificate 2 in Construction. The trainees learnt on the job as they refurbished houses in the town camps. Teams of four trainees were allocated one house each with a builder supervisor and a mentor. The first of these trainees moved into employment with TA at the end of February 2010. Five of these have since been signed into apprenticeships and continue their training to become qualified tradesmen during the life of SIHIP. As of September 2010, 26 participants had moved from CDEP into employment with Territory Alliance with more expected to commence in the near future.
The new CDEP program is different from all previous CDEP contracts as it focuses on getting participants ready for work by delivering pre-employment and work readiness training. The contract is for three years duration. CDEP has never enjoyed such a long contract before, especially when we consider that Tangentyere CDEP was closed down when the NTER commenced in 2007. Our CDEP has been able to survive through this tumultuous period and is now the only CDEP in town. This is due to Tangentyere’s ability to be flexible and adapt its programs to the changing policies and demands of the funding bodies.
After the first year of operation CDEP was able to report that it had exceeded its KPIs, having placed 76 participants into employment and commenced 150 in accredited training. The Average Utilization Rate for the year was above 90 percent. These outcomes contrast starkly with other CDEPs in the country which are declining rapidly. Once again Tangentyere is leading the way in CDEP delivery in Australia.