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The Australian National University

A survey of Remote Jobs and Communities Program(me) providers: one year in

Working Paper 97 / 2015

Abstract

On 1 July 2013, a new labour market and community participation program-the Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP)-started operating across remote Australia. It replaced several other programs, most importantly Job Services Australia (JSA) and the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme. JSA has in recent years been Australia's principal 'mainstream' labour market program in which all unemployment payment recipients in Australia who are able to work are expected to participate. CDEP is a much longer-standing program, originally designed to provide some form of paid work to Indigenous people living in remote communities. RJCP was presented by the Gillard Labor government as offering services that would be locally flexible, be delivered in partnership with communities and have a strong focus on getting people into work.  Its dual focus-on community participation and on jobs-was reflected in arrangements for its administration, jointly managed by the Department  of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. However, a change of government in September 2013 brought RJCP into the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The new Abbott Coalition government was critical of RJCP and immediately included it in a review of Indigenous employment and training programs, led by Andrew Forrest.

This working paper reports on a survey of provider organisations conducted almost one year into the implementation of RJCP. It is part of a larger research project on the implementation of RJCP during its first three years, with funding support from the Australian Research Council and Jobs Australia (Linkage Project 130100226). The project aims to understand how RJCP is developed from a general policy idea to specific grounded practice, at the community, regional and jurisdictional levels. This survey report includes findings about basic arrangements and characteristics of provider organisations; ideas about joblessness in remote areas and welfare conditionality; provider perceptions of the government officials with whom they work; operational details (staffing, money and administrative challenges including information technology (IT) systems); and broader influences on the shaping of program delivery, like Community Action Plans and community perceptions. A second survey in 2015–16 will track developments in these areas over time.

ISSN: 
1442 3871

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