Mutual obligation requirements in the Community Development Program

Information for job seekers about mutual obligation requirements in the Community Development Program.

Who this applies to

This applies to job seekers in the Community Development Program, a remote employment and community development service.

Read more about the Community Development Program on the National Indigenous Australians Agency website.

What you need to do if you’re a new job seeker

Complete a Job Seeker Snapshot questionnaire

The Job Seeker Snapshot is a set of questions about your circumstances. It tells us what employment help and services you need. You must complete this after you submit your claim for an income support payment.

Connect to the Community Development Program

Once you submit your claim, we’ll:

  • refer you to a Community Development Program provider in your local area
  • book your first appointment with this provider.

You must attend this and all future appointments.

Your provider can help you with all of the following:

  • training
  • upskilling
  • voluntary activities to contribute to your community
  • finding employment.

Agree to a Job Plan

You must agree to a Job Plan with your provider. It lists the tasks and activities you agree to do to help you find a job.

What mutual obligations are

Mutual obligation requirements are the tasks you agree to do, to help you find a job.

You need to do these things to keep getting your payment:

  • go to appointments with your provider
  • agree to or change your Job Plan when asked
  • show you’re actively looking for work if that’s part of your Job Plan
  • go to job interviews
  • accept suitable job offers
  • have a valid reason for leaving a job.

Community Development Program activities are voluntary. They include:

  • Work for the Dole
  • training
  • work experience.

You won’t get a penalty for not attending these activities.

If you choose not to do Work for the Dole, your Work for the Dole supplement may stop.

You must still do the other things listed in your Job Plan.

When penalties apply

To keep getting paid, you must meet your mutual obligation requirements.

If you don’t, we may stop your payment or you could lose some or all of your payment.

We’ll always speak with you before giving you a penalty.

Remember your appointment time and make sure you do the things you’ve agreed to do in your Job Plan. If you can’t go to an appointment or do the things in your Job Plan, talk to your provider. You should talk to them before your appointment starts.

What you need to report

If you get an income support payment from us, you must report any income you have been paid in your reporting period. This includes your partner’s income.

You must report your and your partner’s income before we can make your first payment.

You’ll keep reporting every 14 days.

You also need to report if you’re meeting your mutual obligation requirements or not.

If your Centrelink online account is linked to myGov, sign in now to check your reporting dates.

Sign in to myGov

If you don’t have a myGov account or a Centrelink online account you’ll need to create them.

You can also use the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app.

You also need to tell us about changes to your circumstances.

What exemptions may apply

You may be exempt from mutual obligation requirements in certain circumstances.

This could be something like:

  • you’re sick or injured and have a medical certificate
  • you’re experiencing a major personal crisis such as family and domestic violence, being homeless, or the death of a family member
  • you have cultural or sorry business commitments
  • you’re affected by a disaster at home, such as fire or flood
  • you have short term caring duties.

Call us on your regular payment line to ask if you can get an exemption. You’ll need to give us proof of what’s going on.

If you’re sick or injured, you may be temporarily exempt from your requirements. You’ll need to give us a medical certificate if you’re getting any of these:

The medical certificate must state why you’re unfit to work and for how long.

If your Centrelink online account is linked to myGov you can upload your medical certificate online.

Sign in to myGov

You can also bring it into a service centre or Agent’s office.

While we assess your request for an exemption, you need to keep meeting your mutual obligation requirements. This includes attending appointments with your provider.

If you have any concerns about attending face-to-face meetings or training talk to your provider. This includes if you’ve been impacted by COVID-19.

If you’re a principal carer

Mutual obligation requirements for principal carers are tasks and activities you agree to do to keep getting your payment. They give you a better chance of finding work.

You may be exempt from mutual obligation requirements in some family situations. Read about exemptions for principal carers.

If you’re 55 or older

Find out about your mutual obligation requirements if you’re 55 and over.

What a comprehensive compliance assessment is

A comprehensive compliance assessment is how we find out why you’re not meeting your requirements.

Either we or your provider will refer you for this assessment if you continue to miss appointments. We may also refer you for an assessment if we’re concerned about your ability to meet your requirements.

Read more about comprehensive compliance assessments.

Serious failures

If after a comprehensive compliance assessment we find you’ve missed multiple appointments without a valid reason, you may get a serious failure.

A serious failure means we won’t pay you for 8 weeks.

You may also get a serious failure if you don’t either:

  • accept a suitable job offer
  • start work in the one you accepted.

During this time, your payment may start again if you agree to go to a re-engagement appointment with your provider.

Unemployment non-payment period

If you choose to leave your job or you lose it because of misconduct, we may not pay you for 8 weeks.

This won’t affect your family payments.

We may waive the non-payment period if you meet certain conditions and are in severe financial hardship.

When to ask for a review of a decision

If you get a failure and disagree with the decision, you can ask us to review our decision.

Read more about reviews and appeals.

Page last updated: 28 September 2023.
QC 44566