Close the Gap Day 2021: Raising awareness of CDP

9 March, 2021

As Close the Gap Day 2021 on 18 March approaches, our union encourages members to contemplate the persisting gap in outcomes between First Nations and non-First Nations Peoples.

To mark the Close the Gap Day this year, we encourage IEU Chapters to take proactive and meaningful action to help reverse systemic racism.

IEU-QNT Branch Secretary, and caretaker of our union’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), Terry Burke said one such action members could commit to was raising awareness about the harm and disadvantage perpetuated by the Community Development Program (CDP).

“The CDP is a punitive, racist work-for-the-dole program which sees First Nations workers in remote communities paid as little as $11.60 per hour, or $290 per week, to perform ill-defined ‘work-like activities’,” Mr Burke said.

“In line with our RAP, we encourage members to initiate a conversation with their colleagues about how programs like the CDP entrench disadvantage for First Nations Peoples and communities.

“IEU Chapters are also encouraged to meet as a group and consider adopting a Chapter Resolution to show their commitment and support for First Nations Peoples,” he said.

Members can access resources relating to National Close the Gap Day campaign and the Australian Unions First Nations Workers Alliance campaign to end the CDP.

History of Close the Gap Day

Australia’s Closing the Gap campaign was established in response to a call for federal, state, territory and local governments to commit to achieving equality for First Nations Peoples in health and life expectancy within a generation.

In 2008, more than 200,000 Australians united alongside various First Nations and non-First Nations health and community advocacy groups and called on governments to take real and measurable action to achieve First Nations health equality by 2030.

Successive Closing the Gap reports have investigated key targets relating to child mortality, participation in early childhood education, school attendance, literacy and numeracy skills, year 12 attainment, employment and life expectancy.

Progress toward those targets has been slower than desired and Australia continues to have one of the world’s worst life expectancy gaps between First Nations and non-First Nations Peoples.

In 2020, a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap was negotiated by Australian governments and The Coalition of Peaks, a representative body comprised of First Nations community-controlled organisations.

This is a significant partnership which acknowledges that to close the gap, First Nations Peoples must determine, drive and own the desired outcomes alongside governments.

The new framework outlines four main goals for priority reform and 16 outcomes which will determine the success and effectiveness of the new approach.

Key actions

To mark Close the Gap Day on 18 March 2021, our union encourages IEU members to:

  • Raise awareness among colleagues, friends and family about the cruel and unfair Community Development Program (CDP) which continues to entrench disadvantage for First Nations Peoples.
  • Register to run a National Close the Gap Day activity in your IEU Chapter and sign the petition calling on the federal government to Close the Gap at https://antar.org.au/campaigns/national-close-gap-day
  • Join the First Nations Workers Alliance and support the campaign to end the CDP at fnwa.org.au

Read more about our union’s commitment to reconciliation.

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