Empowering CDEPs

Empowering CDEPs

Creating Sustainable Communities

Creative Work

One of the great benefits of CDEP was that it could easily lend itself to workplace democracy, and be free of the complications inherent in the usual work scheme or business. It was the participants’ scheme, and was important that they experienced a sense of ownership, which allowed participants to gain pride in workmanship and achievements.

CDEP can significantly improve the quality of life in the community by creating the opportunity, as well as developing the skills within individuals, to raise the living standards of all community members through making improvements to the community.

Personal and Community Benefits of CDEP

A properly run CDEP could empower participants by giving them:

  • self worth,
  • a sense belonging to their communities,
  • the development of personal skills and abilities,
  • the honest earning of an income,
  • the opportunity to set up and run a community business,
  • a general sense of achievement, purpose, meaningfulness and fulfilment in one’s life.

CDEP is an inherently excellent program, and there are plenty of showcase successes to prove the point. Representatives from many countries visit to learn about it. New Zealand, as the land of innovative social programs, has no comparable scheme. It is intelligently conceived, wide open to creative possibilities, and is a far better program and much cheaper to run than comparable work-for-the-dole schemes.

The Community Development Employment Program is a low cost, part-time, labour-intensive, multi-purpose work scheme that runs on a shoestring budget.

These parameters make the scheme well suited to implementing wholistic and sustainable people-intensive solutions on remote communities,and can benefit a community by enabling it to create solutions that avoid many of the current problems that are making life in the cities unpleasant for many people.

low cost: enables far more activities to take place for a given amount of money. The mainstream trend today is for all services to be so expensive that they become scarce, and no longer serve the public properly, eg hospitals, universities, etc.

part time: enables far more people to be employed. Mainstream employers cannot afford to put more workers on, so the mainstream trend today is for some people to be fully employed whilst others remain unemployed.

part time: gives people time to have a real life. We are meant to work in order to live, not live in order to work. A person should finish their day feeling balanced and invigorated. The mainstream trend today is towards people working excessively to the point of stress.

labour intensive: enables participants to become multi-skilled and fully employed

multipurpose: enables the scheme to address many problems and opportunities

shoestring budget: enables more CDEP projects and more Aborigines across Australia to participate for a given Federal budget allocation

Benefits to Participants

One of the great benefits of CDEP is that it can easily lend itself to workplace democracy, and be free of the complications inherent in the usual work scheme or business. It is the participants’ scheme, and it is important that they experience a sense of ownership. This allows participants to gain pride in workmanship and achievements. CDEP can be quite flexible and adaptable and easily allows multi-skilling and flexi-time.

Creative and constructive work is both highly therapeutic and the most effective way to empower Aboriginal participants and through them, their communities. Work that is designed properly and done well is an excellent medium to tap the highest potentials, develop the abilities and fulfil the aspirations of Aboriginal people, whilst at the same time improving their economic base, living standards and material well-being. Other benefits that accrue from good working are improvements to the health of participants and a lessening of criminal offences and incarceration.

One remote organisation owned a house that had become run down and, after the residents left, was trashed by some of the local children. With assistance from the local TAFE, the CDEP ran a building repair and maintenance course in the house, which was completely repaired and renovated. After completion of the course, participants formed a work group that then progressively renovated many of the other houses. Some of the keener course attendees carried out their own repairs in their spare time with materials supplied by the CDEP. The community now realised that they now had some control over their destiny, and became involved in preventing the children from doing more damage.

This is a good example of a Community, through their CDEP, changing direction so that housing progressively improved, instead of becoming progressively run down and trashed.

Other observable community benefits included:

  • other forms of vandalism, such as breaking streetlights, simply ceased;
  • police concerns diminished considerably;
  • rent collections increased;
  • property conflicts between neighbours lessened and relationships improved.

A well-run CDEP can empower participants by giving them:

  • self worth,
  • a sense belonging to their communities,
  • the development of personal skills and abilities,
  • the honest earning of an income,
  • the opportunity to set up and run a community business,
  • a general sense of achievement, purpose, meaningfulness and fulfilment in one’s life,
  • the opportunity to help create a sustainable community.

As individual participants become more and more empowered through developing these personal qualities, an uplifting community spirit develops, whereby these qualities become more regarded as normal. Such a spirit is infectious, and once the momentum has been created, can inspire and draw others into living more constructive and creative lives. In communities where such a spirit exists, harmony and social cohesion happens by tendency:

One remote FNQ community operated a beer canteen that was a cause of impoverishment and considered by many residents to be the greatest source of community difficulties. After a CDEP had started in the settlement, drinking gradually diminished, with many participants not drinking after work during the week. The canteen atmosphere, which had been very raucous, quietened down and improved until eventually, patrons would discuss the next week’s activities with the coordinator over a quiet beer on Friday evenings after the pays were given out. Mid-week drinking dramatically reduced. Much of the beer canteen takings now were spent in the community store, to the improved health and wellbeing of the community. They decided to take their football seriously that year, and won the local championship

A survey to uncover the reasons for the positive outcome revealed the following:

  • the drinkers were no longer bored;
  • the community could see a path out of its stagnation and participate in that;
  • participants ended their work day feeling more fulfilled, integrated and balanced, and felt far less urge to drink.
  • their lives were now purposeful and had more meaning;

CDEP can deliver these personal and community outcomes, and is clearly the best vehicle to do so. The simplicity, elegance and flexibility in the basic design of the scheme is makes it wholly adequate to the task.

Retrofitting their communities for sustainability, using wholistic practices could be an extremely interesting and fulfilling occupation for CDEP participants. It can help to re-orientate all community members, solve many problems, whilst creating greater community upliftment and personal empowerment than anything else. This is the purpose that CDEP was always created for. The problem was that it was not applied in sustainable ways for sustainable community solurtions.

Inter CDEP Communication

The most basic need is for good, clear, unambiguous communication. All existing problems throughout the entire CDEP program stem from lack of communication, especially between the various groups mentioned above.

It is not just a need for a minimum standard of communication. This is needed, but if the program is to survive and succeed, much more is needed than this. What is required is a communicative process, whereby good ideas are exchanged freely and, through that learning exchange, are improved and built upon. The communication process is the leavening agent necessary to create the positive ferment to lift CDEPs to greater heights. CDEP is the best vehicle for the upliftment of Aboriginal persons throughout Australia, but it needs the commitment and willing cooperation of all major players to give it the best chance of actualising this potential into full blown reality.

CDEP Community Workplace Self-Actualisation

Self-actualisation can be facilitated by:

  • having a product or service that workers believed in, customers feel good about, that is good for society and beneficial for the planet;
  • making work purposeful and designing tasks to be enlivening and uplifting;
  • democratising the workplace and according all people dignity and responsibility;
  • developing a consultative culture of honesty and trust;
    • eliminating organisational conflicts and blocks through thoughtful and careful design;
    • treating problems as challenges and opportunities for higher level solutions;
    • realising that those at the coal face are often already aware of the problem, and may know the best solution; they often have creative, forward looking ideas, too.

Inter CDEP Communication

The most basic need is for good, clear, unambiguous communication. All existing problems throughout the entire CDEP program stem from lack of communication, especially between the various groups mentioned above.

It is not just a need for a minimum standard of communication. This is needed, but if the program is to survive and succeed, much more is needed than this. What is required is a communicative process, whereby good ideas are exchanged freely and, through that learning exchange, are improved and built upon. The communication process is the leavening agent necessary to create the positive ferment to lift CDEPs to greater heights.

CDEP is the best vehicle for the upliftment of Aboriginal persons throughout Australia, but it needs the commitment and willing cooperation of all major players to give it the best chance of actualising this potential into full blown reality.

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