Communiqué 3 - Meeting of CDEP Consultative Group, 19-20 May 2010

The Department for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs met with the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) Program Consultative Group in Adelaide on 19-20 May 2010.

All 13 members attended. Mr Bryan Palmer, Group Manager of the Indigenous Programs and Economic Development Group chaired the meeting.

The Consultative Group’s role is to provide advice to the Department on operational matters impacting on the effective implementation of the reforms to the CDEP program and strategic solutions. Their advice was incorporated into identifying recent operational issues impeding effective CDEP service delivery.

The focus of the Adelaide meeting was:

  • Identification and discussion of key challenges to change in the CDEP sector and strategies to overcome these challenges.
  • Operational matters, including those involving the operational adjustments agreed by Ministers Macklin and Arbib to finetune employment servicing arrangements in remote areas, including the CDEP Program.
  • Issues raised at the March CDEP National Workshop were discussed.

It was a highly productive meeting with broad ranging discussions. Advice from the CDEP Consultative Group and agreed actions are at Attachment A and operational questions and answers at Attachment B.

The next meeting of the Consultative Group is provisionally in September 2010.

Attachment A
Proposed Actions

  1. Overcoming barriers and/or risks to successful CDEP service delivery:
    1. Working with the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
      The advances made to implement the operational adjustments were strongly welcomed by the Group.
      ACTION:
      Ongoing discussion on the effectiveness of the measures.
      The CDEP Consultative Group believes effective working relationships between providers and departmental Agreement Managers is a key factor to the effective implementation of the CDEP Program.

      ACTION:
      CCG members are to provide the Department with generic capabilities that make an effective Agreement Manager.

      ACTION:
      The CDEP Consultative Group will discuss topics for better practice workshops and consider priority areas for action.  Item is to be included on agenda for the next meeting.
    2. Working in the employment and training sector

      CDEP providers play an important part of the Indigenous employment and training sector, and needs to be more active in promoting their projects and services with other parts of the sector. Relationships with other parts of the sector are improving but remain difficult in some areas. Some regions hold regular meetings between staff from CDEP, Job Services Australia, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Centrelink (and other relevant agencies) which have assisted in strengthening relationships providing better outcomes for providers and participants. This also has helped in dealing with the high turnover of staff enabling new people to get to know the programs and players. However, in some areas improved relationships have not resulted in increased referrals and action needs to be taken to understand why this is the case.
      ACTION:
      The Department will investigate an example (case study) where effective regional arrangements have been developed and publicise this to encourage better practice.

    3. Employer issues

      CDEP providers are interested in recruiting a broader range of staff, particularly people who are interested in and committed to Indigenous Australia in remote settings. CDEP may not be on the work horizon of some skilled people who may be interested in working with CDEP (e.g. university students, people interested in working in developing communities, community developers and community artists). Promotion of CDEP nationally and in local communities is seen as an important strategy. Being good employers/managers is a useful topic for a Better Practice forum.
      ACTION:
      The Department will initiate discussions with other agencies about strategies to encourage people to consider working in remote Indigenous communities.

      ACTION:
      The Department will promote the CDEP Program to other Commonwealth agencies such as the Australia Council (Community Partnerships) for developing partnerships and projects for Indigenous people which achieve positive outcomes.
      ACTION:
      CDEP providers are encouraged to strengthen their links to local media to promote good news stories.

    4. New ways of working for providers

      There is a need to identify CDEP providers who are driving new ways of delivering projects and services, and showcase their work to the CDEP sector.
      ACTION:
      The Department will seek good practice examples from across the CDEP sector and publish/showcase in future editions of the CDEP e-newsletter.
      A priority focus is getting good people working on the ground in communities and supporting them. There are 2 issues to be addressed:
      • Recruitment and housing of these people where this has proved difficult, and;
      • Support for them to be effective in their jobs.
      ACTION:
      The Department is looking at options for the professional development of mentors and Community Development Officers and different delivery models.

  2. Better practice in developing and delivering community development projects
    1. Networking and sharing of information between providers are seen as essential to improving practice.
      ACTION:
      Providers are encouraged to meet regionally for this purpose.
  3. Best practice in delivering effective training
    1. Availability and appropriateness of training

      There are real difficulties in getting appropriate training into remote areas. Providers need to be able to access training from a variety of sources. The training system is complicated and knowing what money is available and how to package dollars to meet program needs is a challenge.
      It may be that some public and private providers do not know that CDEP is a potential market for their services. Providers need to develop training plans and priorities for presentation to training organisations. Some CDEP providers also have registered training organisation status and could provide training for other providers. There are subcontracting arrangements possible that will assist.
      ACTION:
      Providers need to explore funding sources for training and trainers, investigate Memoranda of Understanding with TAFE providers, and look at the potential for regional arrangements that create purchasing power. A workshop on funding sources would be helpful.

      ACTION:
      The Department will raise with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations the potential for the Language Literacy and Numeracy Program to partner with CDEP.

      ACTION:
      The training topic needs to continue to be placed on the agenda to ensure further consideration of ways to improve this part of the system.

      ACTION:
      Adrian Mitchell (Consultative Group member) will write an article for TAFE Directors Australia giving information about CDEP and marketing the needs and strengths of the program.

    2. Training materials
      Many providers have developed successful programs in basic modules such as work readiness, financial literacy etc. There is potential to share these materials with other providers.
      ACTION:
      The Department will investigate the potential for a “library” of successful course curriculum for use by all providers.

    3. Training and young people
      There are significant challenges with young people who are not moving into training or employment. This topic needs further discussion.

    4. Training outcome payments
      A number of provider members expressed concerns that achievement of training outcome payments can be difficult given the timeframes for completion of outcomes are long (and training does not always result in a completed course).  One suggestion put forward by CCG members to address this was to consider payment of interim training outcome payments.

      The Department noted that outcome payments should not drive the business of CDEP providers and that work readiness and community development funds can be used to support training costs.  The Department also noted that the purpose of the training outcome payment was aligned to similar outcome payments for Job Services Australia providers and are tied to the achievement of a demonstrable accredited outcome with documentary evidence such as a Certificate I or higher. The meeting also noted the difficulties this would present of appropriate evidence to support the achievement of individual modules. It was also noted that where training leads to employment, outcome payments could be attracted at that stage.
      ACTION:
      The Department will review outcome payments administered by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations for consistency.

      ACTION:
      The Consultative Group will supply examples of relevant training activities and compliance documentation for consideration by the Department.

  4. Areas for additional support from Government agencies
    1. It was noted all spheres of Government are implementing programs in remote communities without taking Indigenous employment into account and connecting with CDEP.
      ACTION:
      The Department has been asked to promote to relevant Australian, State and Territory Government agencies that CDEP offers a significant opportunity for the delivery of their programs in remote Australia, including tourism, construction and the building of houses.

      ACTION:
      CDEP providers to actively promote their progress to potential employees at the local level.

  5. Promoting communication across the CDEP sector
    ACTION:
    Further discussion at a future CDEP Consultative Group meeting.
    1. There is considerable support for the current national road show.
    2. Discussion commenced on opportunities for bringing people together in best practice workshops, meetings of Chief Executive Officers, focussed interest groups e.g. people working with young people, and communities of interest e.g. community organisations, local government organisations etc.

    3. The Members discussed that CDEP providers may benefit from being part of a broader employment sector advocacy group.  Members noted that this is a matter for the sector to resolve and is outside the remit of the CCG.
    4. There is a need to recognise the diversity of the CDEP providers (community organisations, not-for-profit, local government, private) and that there may need to be different ways of communicating and different solutions to cater to this diversity.
      ACTION:
      The Department and the Consultative Group will take into account the diverse needs of CDEP organisations in planning any further activities.

    5. The Consultative Group would like the Department to use the expertise of successful providers in assisting and supporting other providers.
      ACTION:
      Further discussion is required to consider how this could happen practically.
  6. Other matters
    1. The Consultative Group wishes to provide input into the Terms of Reference for the CDEP and employment services review, due to commence in 2011.
      ACTION:
      This item will be discussed at the next CDEP Consultative Group meeting.
    2. Continuous Improvement Framework was discussed.
      NOTE:
      The CDEP Consultative Group noted the progress of the pilot projects and supports the development of the framework. Members asked that better practice that emerges through the pilot is disseminated to the sector.

Attachment B
Operational Questions and Answers

Are there circumstances where CDEP providers can receive outcome payments for non-accredited training?

Outcome payments are only paid for accredited training in a single accredited training course for Certificate Level 1 or higher as specified in Item 14.6-7 of the CDEP Program Specific Guidelines.  Approved training must be a minimum of 7.5 hours a week and run for more than 13 weeks (or if for a shorter period, this needs to be a minimum of 100 nominal course hours).

CDEP providers should arrange training that best suits the needs and skills of participants and their progression to employment.  This may include both accredited and non-accredited training.  (For example, non-accredited training may be the appropriate option to provide the breadth of pre-vocational skills required).  All training should be outlined in participants’ Employment Pathway Plans.

Can CDEP participants move between the CDEP Work Readiness and Community Development streams?

Participants can be moved between the Community Development and Work Experience stream, or participate in both concurrently, to best suit the needs of the participant.

There may be instances where it is beneficial to a job seeker to move between streams within CDEP.  For example, applying training skills are fundamental and a CDEP participant in the Work Readiness stream may be able to put their skills into practice within a Community Development Project.

CDEP providers can also approach their Agreement Managers to renegotiate their ratio of Work Readiness activities to Community Development activities as necessary.  Any change would need to be approved by The Department.

What do CDEP providers do if there continues to be problems with remote delivery of employment services?  (For example, continuing lack of referrals from Job Services Australia providers, lack of funding contributions from Job Services providers to assist CDEP participants with training costs, or information gaps from Centrelink on participants.)

CDEP providers need to be actively pursuing local solutions to issues where they arise through their Agreement Managers.

Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs are strongly committed to ensuring that employment services are effectively delivered to Indigenous people in remote areas.  Equally, if problems persist after implementation of operational adjustments, the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs needs to be advised promptly.

Agreement Managers will elevate issues where necessary so they can be resolved quickly between the Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations and/or Centrelink.

Is Job Services Australia the only provider that can refer participants to the CDEP Program?

The majority of referrals will come from Job Services Australia, however referrals can also be provided by any provider of government funded employment service (e.g. the Disability Employment Service). As part of the operational adjustments CDEP providers can also now directly recruit participants.

If a referral comes from organisations other than Job Services Australia should the Job Services Australia provider be assisting the participant with Employment Pathway Funds?

Yes on an as needs basis. Once on CDEP, participants are fully eligible for Job Services Australia services.

If a person is directly recruited by CDEP (i.e. the person was not referred to CDEP by a Job Services Australia (or a Disability Employment Service provider), the person must register with Job Services Australia as soon a possible. The directly recruited participant is fully eligible for Job Services Australia stream services and qualifies for assistance using the Employment Pathway Fund. Assistance using the Employment Pathway Fund is considered on a case-by-case basis by Job Services Australia providers, taking into account, for example, the needs and barriers of the job seeker, the cost of the proposed assistance and availability of funds.

Can CDEP providers use surplus wage funds to pay some participants for additional hours in projects and services?

CDEP wage surplus can be generated from within providers’ CDEP wage fund entitlements, for example through enforcement of ‘no work no pay’. These surplus funds can be used to pay continuing participants for engagement in projects and services, including training, for hours additional to those required to earn the Average per Participant rate (i.e. top-up). These funds do not include uncommitted or unspent wage funds that the provider is not entitled to. New participants are on income support and cannot be paid from CDEP wage funds.

CDEP providers can also pay additional amounts to participants from other sources of income such as project generated income or outcome payments.

Is CDEP ending as a program?

The CDEP program is not ending. CDEP remains a critical program in delivering community development and employment services to Indigenous job seekers in remote regions. CDEP wages will be phased out between 1 July and 30 September 2011.  After this time all participants will continue on CDEP on income support rather than wages.  The program itself will continue as normal. CDEP and employment services will be reviewed in late 2011 and again in 2015.

What is Centrelink doing about participation failures?

This issue is the focus of ongoing discussion with Centrelink and the right balance needs to be struck.  It is important to recognise that Centrelink is bound by legislative requirements and has to take many factors into account and must be fair to the job seeker.  Job seekers are required to provide ‘reasonable excuses’ for non-compliance with income support participation requirements.

The role of the CDEP provider is to report absences to the Job Services Australia provider, the Job Services Australia provider then determines if a participation failure needs to be reported to Centrelink. Where Centrelink determines a participation failure has actually occurred ‘no show no pay’ may be enforced. This means that for every day a participant is absent; their income support payment will be reduced by 10%.  CDEP participation requirements for new participants should be accurately reflected in the Employment Pathway Plan (including hours and days of attendance). Centrelink is unable to enforce participation failures if Employment Pathway Plans do not adequately record participation requirements. Where CDEP providers become aware of instances where Employment Pathway Plans do not contain accurate participation requirements, they should discuss the matter with the Job Services Australia provider.

The issue around engagement of the community is a very difficult one.  What can be done to ensure greater participation in CDEP?

The main thing that CDEP providers can do to encourage engagement of community members is to offer good CDEP projects and services that are valued by the community and make individuals keen to participate.

What should CDEP providers do if they have good ideas and better practice examples for projects, services and delivery mechanisms?

The Department encourages all providers to share their good ideas for projects and services and successful forms of delivery with other providers, particularly where there are possibilities for other CDEPs to utilise similar strategies or model projects.   Please send to cdepfeedback@dss.gov.au.

People are being removed from CDEP for reasons “unknown”.  Why is this happening?  CDEP providers are in a position to follow up with people but there is no available information on background.

While circumstances may differ, the key reason will be that the job seeker will have gone off income support (for whatever reason).  Through direct recruitment CDEP providers will be able to put people directly back on but they will need to talk to their Job Services Australia about this. The participant needs to be informed that they must continue to meet any obligations in regard to their income support and Job Services Australia requirements.  Failure to do so will result in continued exits.

Do Development and Support Funds need to be spent by the end of this financial year?

Wherever possible, funds should be spent within the current financial year. Funds need to have been released to CDEP providers by the end of the financial year.  However, Development and Support funds can be spent after 30 June 2010 in accordance with the approved purpose.  Agreement Managers will be in touch with providers about this shortly.

Are service fees to be reviewed for the next financial year?

Service Fees are set at the providers Agreed Average Places and do not change with utilisation. The operational adjustments should assist providers to maintain utilisation at higher levels than currently being achieved. The Department will be monitoring the effect these changes have on utilisation with the possibility of reviewing Agreed Average Places allocations around November 2010. If Agreed Average Places alters, service fees paid to CDEP providers will be adjusted accordingly.

When will the operational adjustments agreed to by Ministers Macklin and Arbib be implemented?

Implementation began on the week commencing 17 May 2010.  Workshops to discuss the implementation of the operational adjustments also commenced at this time.  Agreement variations are required to put in place the new arrangements.  As soon as variations are signed, CDEP providers can implement the new arrangements and access additional enhancements to CDEPManager, e.g. direct recruitment of participants by CDEP providers.

Will Service Level Agreements need to be updated as operational adjustments are implemented?

Service Level Agreements between CDEP and Job Services Australia providers will need to be updated to reflect changes.   Service Level Agreements are dynamic documents that need to reflect on an ongoing basis all current practices, processes, roles/responsibilities regarding how CDEP and Job Services Australia providers work together to service participants of the CDEP Program.  This should be reviewed on an as needs basis and is the key document to be referred to if there is a dispute/disagreement about servicing.

How will direct recruitment assist CDEP providers and how will it work?

Direct recruitment will assist providers to engage people within their projects and services and will assist in removing delays currently being experienced through reliance on referrals alone. It is anticipated that this will increase a CDEP providers’ utilisation, avoid unnecessary delays in participant commencement and provide more opportunities for jobseekers. Once agreement variations have been executed a new functionality will be enabled in CDEPManager allowing providers to directly recruit participants. The system will provide prompts in regard to income support application etc. Information materials will be distributed to providers.

Direct recruitment does not replace the referral system; it is an addition to the existing arrangements.

Content Updated: 27 September 2013