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.

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 series of questions about your circumstances. It helps to work out what employment assistance 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 the Community Development Program provider in your local area, and book your first appointment with them. You must attend this and all future appointments.

Your provider can help you with:

  • 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 Community Development Program 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 in your Job Plan, to help you find a job.

Mutual obligation requirements are compulsory. They may include:

  • going to appointments with your Community Development Program provider
  • agreeing to or changing your Job Plan when asked
  • showing you’re actively looking for work if that’s part of your Job Plan
  • going to job interviews
  • accepting suitable job offers
  • having a valid reason for leaving a job.

Community Development Program activities are voluntary. This includes:

  • 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 do these things, we may suspend 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 is due to start.

What you need to report

If you get an income support payment from us, you must report any income earned in the past 14 days. 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.

You can check your reporting dates using either:

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:

  • a crisis such as family and domestic violence, being homeless, or the death of a family member
  • cultural or sorry business commitments
  • a disaster at home, such as fire or flood
  • short term care duties for an adult or child.

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. You can do this using your Centrelink online account through myGov, or lodge it at a Service Centre, Remote Service Centre or Agent’s office.

The medical certificate must state why you’re unfit to work and for how long. You’ll need to give us a medical certificate if you’re getting:

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

If you’re a principal carer

Mutual obligation requirements for principal carers are approved 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 CDP provider.

Unemployment non-payment period

We may not pay you if you choose to leave your job or you lose it because of misconduct. We may not pay you for either:

  • 8 weeks
  • 12 weeks if you got relocation assistance for the job from your provider.

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.

If you’re impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19)

We may grant you an exemption for up to 14 days without evidence if you’re either:

  • self-isolating
  • caring for someone who needs to self-isolate.

Transition to the Remote Engagement Program in 2024

A new Remote Engagement Program will replace the Community Development Program in 2024.

The Remote Engagement Program (REP) will better support remote job seekers to build skills and provide a pathway to find a job. The new program will be co-designed and trialled in five regions in remote Australia.

Read more about the Remote Engagement Program on the National Indigenous Australians Agency website.

Page last updated: 26 April 2022