Lessons from the Recent Policy Experience in the Australian Indigenous Community-Employment Sector

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Zoe Staines https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5295-1532


Labour economics, Labour market policy, labour market regulation, welfare, wellbeing, remote, indigenous, employment, unemployment


Indigenous disadvantage in Australia is persistent and includes continued low labourforce participation and employment, especially in remote areas. Government-driven employment programs respond by engaging (predominantly Indigenous) jobseekers in regional and remote Australia to improve outcomes. However, results have been mixed.
Much of the extant literature focuses on the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP)—Australia’s longest-lasting community-employment program (1977–2015). There are comparatively few studies that focus on programs implemented since 2007, when CDEP began to be phased out, and no studies that trace this recent history in its entirety. This study fills this gap by exploring and comparing the key features of four employment programs from 2007 onwards—a period of relatively rapid program change. The paper discusses their key similarities and differences and argues that, despite rapid vicissitudes, the underlying policy settings remain largely stable. This offers some potential lessons for future policy approaches, which are particularly timely in the lead up to yet another new program being scheduled for implementation in early 2019.

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