The CDEP Consultative Group met for a fourth time in Canberra on 15-16 December 2010. It was the final meeting of the current membership of the CDEP Consultative Group. The Department proposes to constitute new membership of the Consultative Group early in 2011.
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.
At the December 2010 meeting, the Consultative Group provided advice on the following ten items and sought the Department’s advice on five operational questions.
ITEM 1 – The future of remote employment services
The Government has asked for feedback on remote employment services and in that context the CDEP Consultative Group makes the following comments:
- The reforms to CDEP have tarnished the brand and in consideration of the new system, a new name should be considered that better reflects a new broader focus (outlined below)
- Remote employment services are critical and need to be continued in communities with limited economies
- This is an opportunity for providers and communities to re-look at the purpose of CDEP and consider alternate models of delivery
- It is useful for providers to think outside the square, and look at long term goals and different ways to deliver the services
- We believe that while the purpose of labour market programs in remote communities is employment, the definition of employment must encompass a journey that starts with engagement, moves to pathways and training to work readiness and then employment and post placement support
- A critical focus of remote employment services is engaging people in labour market activities
- Jobs themselves need redefinition in limited economies. Government contracts need to better reflect the broad range of participation in work programs and equally value participation
- A part of the development of labour markets will require the consideration of job creation and the acknowledgement of community and cultural activities as real work
- The nature of work needs to be considered so it is relevant to community interests and specific places but not limited by them
- The structure and nature of work needs consideration to include models beyond full time permanent positions
- The capacity to take different approaches in different places is important.
Our advice is that in the future achievements and outcomes should include:
- Increased community engagement
- Economic outcomes
- Employment outcomes
- Social enterprise outcomes
- Volunteering and capacity building
These terms need new and agreed definitions.
There is a need to consider new ways of delivering services that increase the outcomes in all four categories:
- These new ways may not be CDEP (and other related service delivery in its current form), but may be a collaboration of the economic, social, employment, education and training services in existence
- It needs to be considered whether services would be best delivered in a stand alone or integrated model
- A one-stop-shop system may work well in remote communities, which may be as a result of collaborative service delivery, a consortium of providers or single service providers
- Whatever you have, the new system needs to be simplified, streamlined and easy to understand by both participants and providers. This would provide an opportunity to streamline systems and communication.
Our advice is that in the future the new system should include government subsidies for employment creation which might include subsidies for the creation of jobs to support emerging social enterprise, wage subsidies for transitional employment programs and paid participation in community projects.
Active labour market participation is encouraged rather than passive welfare.
Government is encouraged to focus on enterprise development beyond RSD sites in communities of limited economies.
Commonwealth and State Government should prioritise a portion of their recurrent training allocations to support remote communities
There needs to be an articulation of how CDEP fits within the broader government agenda of social inclusion.
ACTION: CCG asks that the Government consider its advice
ITEM 2 – Consulting the sector on system reform
CCG is concerned that changes to the CDEP may be considered without consultation with the sector, and asks that the following points be considered:
- This group encourages the participation of providers, participants and their communities in the provision of feedback and the devising of any new approaches
- This is an opportunity for collaboration among all service providers and communities about the future
- This group recommends an ongoing role for the CCG with Government for progressing this collaboration
- The CCG acknowledges that there are a lot of other things happening at the moment i.e. RSD, LIPs etc, and a critical issue is to consider how CDEP can enhance these activities.
ACTION: CCG requests that the Government consult with providers, participants and communities as new approaches are developed.
ITEM 3 – Mentors
The Department asked for feedback on the operation of mentors.
CCG advised their appreciation of these positions and outlined the positive role that mentors are playing in getting better engagement and outcomes in communities.
CCG supports the development of a training program for mentors and provided general advice on areas for inclusion in training. There is an outstanding issue about how mentors are supported, how they will manage their participants and what model of work will be used.
ACTION: Matter referred to the next CCG
ITEM 4 – Community development and CAPs
CCG advised that the CAP process is a useful tool for engaging with communities and planning for the future. These plans need to be constantly updated as things change quickly in some communities.
It was emphasised that CAPs need to be based on community development principles and be asset not deficit based.
ITEM 5 – Membership of CCG
Current CCG members see the CDEP Consultative Committee as a useful tool for advising Government and encourage providers to consider expressing and interest in membership.
There are advantages in turning over membership as it brings new voices to the table and allows for more providers to engage in strategic discussions. However, members note that it has taken several meetings to move to effective policy discussions and suggest that the appointment term be longer than 12 months.
ACTION: That the Department consider:
- Appointment of CCG members for 2 year
- Keeping some members (50%) to enable continuity
- Having more than the CCG – for example portfolio groups feeding into the CCG and chaired by a CCG member.
ITEM 6 – Data
For future CCGs to be effective general performance data needs to be tabled at meetings. This does not include information about specific providers, rather national trends and the implications of those trends.
Providers should be encouraged to share data with other services in order to benchmark their services and learn from each other.
ACTION: CCG requests that the Department provide a regular report to CCG on national trends to assist the CCG to provide informed advice
ITEM 7 – Young people
CCG discussed the importance of young people to the future of remote communities. An emphasis and focus on young people within employment programs is critical.
There are new programs being introduced by government and it is essential that they are linked and coordinated with existing programs at the start, rather than having to fix problems later.
ACTION: CCG requests that information about existing transition and bridging programs for young people be presented to the next CCG meeting for consideration of ways of improving the connection between CDEP and these programs.
ITEM 8 – Communication between FaHCSIA and providers
CCG advised the Department that there is inadequate communication on the proposed transition to income support. The CCG asked the Department to develop a plan for the transition to income support and communicate that plan with providers, communities and participants as appropriate, including:
a) tell the broad message
b) government activity
c) what you want from providers
The CCG advised the Department that there needs to be a more timely approval of activities in CDEP Manager.
ACTION: The CCG recommended the Department communicate its broad approach early in 2011, and advise the specific transition dates for communities as soon as possible.
ACTION: Bryan Palmer will raise the issue of activity approval times with the FaHCSIA State Managers.
ITEM 9 – Sharing of practice/supporting the sector
CCG members recognise the value in peer learning, communities of interest, collaboration through best practice workshops etc. They are interested in an evidence based focus for bringing people together.
ACTION: Request FaHCSIA to financially support and promote initiatives that encourage the sharing of best practice through active engagement with providers in the development of forums and programs, in particular a national gathering of practitioners.
ACTION: FaHCSIA use available data on performance to focus training and support activities and that additional resources are available to support common areas of weakness.
ITEM 10 – Training challenges
CCG recognises the poor performance (based on data) of providers in achieving training outcomes and discussion was held on challenges presented including building relationships with RTOs understanding the complex system etc.
ACTION: CCG recommends that the next CCG meeting address this topic in detail and consider actions that would support providers to achieve outcomes
Operational Questions and Answers
Question 1: Can there be payable outcomes for non-accredited training that directly leads to accredited training and/or an employment outcome?
Answer: There is currently no provision to pay outcome payments for non-accredited training. To receive outcome payments a participant must be enrolled in a Training Course with a minimum Certificate 1 qualification outcome and must complete a minimum of 100 nominal course hours to be eligible for Stage 1 Outcome Payment and successfully complete the course to be eligible for a Stage 2 payment.
Question 2: Can there be an increase in payment to recognise movement of participants to areas of greater training and employment?
Answer: Current outcome payments provide specific rates for outcomes in Training, Work Experience and Employment. No specific outcome payment exists for the movement of participants to areas of greater training, work experience or employment outcomes. However JSA providers can assist job seekers with mobility costs. Where mobility leads to training and employment outcomes, applicable outcome payments may be claimable.
Specific questions should be directed to your Agreement Manager in the first instance.
Question 3: Can CDEP Agreement Managers provide details with remittance advice or contact the provider identifying the release of funding?
Answer: The CDEP program will explore the best practical solution to the problem. Advice will be given to the Agreement Managers through CDEP Co-ordinators requesting that sufficient information is provided on the Recipient Created Tax Invoice. When releasing Development and Support funds, Agreement Managers will also be requested to notify providers of the payment by email, including a brief description of the items being funded.
Question 4: There has been mixed advice from Agreement Managers regarding the management of accrued funds for entitlements including the question of who is responsible for entitlement payments. Providers are advised to seek their own legal advice.
Answer: Providers need to be aware of their obligations to participants, particularly in anticipation of the transition of eligible CDEP participants from CDEP wages to income support payments on a community by community basis from 1 April 2012 – 30 June 2012.
CDEP providers are responsible for managing their CDEP wage funds so that adequate provision is made for the payment of all wages, and leave entitlements that are accrued by continuing participants during their participation in a CDEP Service or CDEP project (Items 13.10 and 13.16 of the supplementary conditions and the definition of “Participant Payments” at Item 1.1).
CDEP providers must also ensure that they comply with all relevant legislation, awards and industrial instruments, either from within the funding limitations of the CDEP funding agreement or otherwise from their own resources (Item 8.6 of the supplementary conditions), noting that “relevant legislation” may include State legislation and, if so, this requirement may vary from State to State. As a general rule, accrued annual leave entitlements and long service leave entitlements may need to be paid out, sick leave entitlements should not be paid out. CDEP providers should check, or seek advice regarding, relevant legislation, awards and industrial instruments.
When CDEP wages are phased out (planned to be around April 2012) any unexpended CDEP Wage Funds Entitlement can only be expended in accordance with Item 13.21 of the supplementary conditions. FaHCSIA will not be providing additional funding to cover participant entitlement costs.
If accrued CDEP Wage funds are held by the provider to pay entitlements, it is recommended that the funds are accurately reflected in the provisions as reported in the balance sheet e.g. Liabilities - Participant Entitlements and broken down into the various sub groups reflecting the entitlement type e.g. annual leave, long service leave, sick leave.
CDEP providers are strongly encouraged to seek early independent professional advice if they are uncertain of their obligations.
CDEP wages transition
CDEP providers will continue to receive CDEP wage funding for each Continuing Participant (participating or on leave) up until the date CDEP wages are phased out for the person.
CDEP providers should encourage participants to use their leave entitlements prior to the phasing out of CDEP wages (and, where the person is eligible, the transition of the person to income support), noting that participants should not be compelled to use leave entitlements. Ideally this encouragement should be happening as soon as possible as any leave paid out when wages cease may, among other things, impact the rate of income support payments that participants may be eligible for (noting that in some cases a lump sum payout may lead to a nil rate for a period).
It is recommended that participants taking significant amounts of (accrued) leave be paid incrementally (i.e. weekly or fortnightly) rather than being paid a lump sum payment at the start of their leave period. As above, large lump sum payments may lead to persons being adversely affected by means testing arrangements associated with various social security payments.
Providers could consider offering participants staggered leave arrangements (i.e. one week on, one week off), rather than large blocks of leave to maintain participation in the program.
Question 5: How does the Department intend to manage the integration of performance monitoring and continuous improvement visits?
Answer: Risk Management, Compliance and Monitoring (Compliance), and Continuous Improvement are separate processes which form a continuum of activity for Agreement Managers. Compliance is based on ensuring that Providers are meeting the requirements of the funding contract and where they are falling short, the process facilitates the identification of measures to ensure they meet their contractual performance obligations.
Continuous Improvement on the other hand is based on a structured collaborative discussion between the Agreement Manager and the CDEP Provider’s representatives and creates an environment in which the entire CDEP activity of the Provider is reviewed. It looks at the service from different perspectives from risk management and compliance and so will provide different insights into how the service is operating. It will also give a different perspective on risks. The process identifies areas where the Provider could improve including the organisation’s corporate governance, internal business processes and community engagement. It is not intended to identify areas where the Provider is not meeting its obligations under the funding agreement.
Clearly there will be overlap and times when areas for improvement will be identified under both Compliance and Continuous Improvement however Continuous Improvement can have a much stronger forward looking focus. With Continuous Improvement being effectively applied to the business of CDEP Providers, it would be expected that issues identified through Compliance processes would decrease. Continuous Improvement is a relationship building exercise where the Provider is the customer.
The Department is currently considering the above processes and proposes to re-convene the Continuous Improvement Framework Working group early next year to consider how we might better integrate them and to include discussions about Provider Viability.