The Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme is an example of a program that combines community development and labour market program elements. This paper describes the nature of CDEP employment in 2008 and the extent to which it changed between 1994 and 2008. The paper also compares a selection of economic and social outcomes of CDEP participants with those of persons who are employed outside of CDEP, unemployed, and not-in-the-labour-force (NILF) in 2008, and the extent to which these associations changed between 1994 and 2008.
The analysis shows that the nature of the jobs in which CDEP participants work and the experiences it provides to workers has been largely unchanged, despite substantial changes in underlying policy settings. The income gap between CDEP participants and the non-CDEP employed has increased since 1994. CDEP participation is associated with the maintenance of language and culture as well as facilitating an ongoing connection to traditional lands. Participation in the scheme is associated with better social and economic outcomes compared to those of the unemployed or those not-in-the-labour-force, but much worse outcomes than those for people working in non-CDEP employment.
Keywords: Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme, Indigenous employment, government policy, remote area development.