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Better Than Welfare?


Jon Altman is an economist/anthropologist who first engaged with the Community Development Employment Projects scheme in 1977 when it was established. Since then he has maintained an abiding interest in this highly innovative scheme in his research and policy advocacy for appropriate and sustainable forms of Indigenous economic development from the local to the national. Jon was an academic researcher at The Australian National University (ANU) from 1982 to 2014 and foundation director of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research 1990 to 2010. He is currently a research professor at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University; ANU Emeritus Professor at RegNet: School of Regulation and Global Governance; and Adjunct Professorial Fellow at the Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods at Charles Darwin University.

Bree Blakeman is an Australia-based anthropologist and writer. She completed her PhD, ‘An ethnography of emotion and morality: Toward a local Indigenous theory of value and exchange on the remote Yolŋu Homelands in Arnhem Land, Australia’, in 2015. Her research interests include economic anthropology, anthropology of emotions, value theory, psychological anthropology, kinship, sociality of being, feminism and anthropological linguistics. Other interests include property relations and land tenure, poetry and anarchist political philosophy. Bree is currently a sessional tutor and lecturer of anthropology in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at The Australian National University. She blogs about anthropology and related topics at:

Boyd Hunter is IZA Research Fellow and Senior Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Research School of Social Sciences at The Australian National University (ANU), where he has worked for 20 years. He is currently editor-in-chief of the Australian Journal of Social Issues, the official publication of the Australian Social Policy Association (and the only social policy journal in Australia). In addition to his work in labour economics, he has considerable expertise in a range of social sciences fields: criminology, econometrics, economic history, geography, poverty analysis, survey design and analysis and Indigenous economic policy. He was recently awarded, along with John Carmody, the 2015 Sir Timothy Coghlan Prize for the best article in Australian Economic History Review for the paper ‘Estimating the Aboriginal population in early colonial Australia: The role of chickenpox reconsidered’. He convenes the Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours), or PhB program, for the College of Arts and Social Sciences at ANU.

Kirrily Jordan is a political economist with a particular interest in all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and economic development. Her research includes analysis of various public and private sector programs designed to improve Indigenous employment outcomes, as well as the interaction of these programs with the social security system and new forms of welfare conditionality. Kirrily began investigating the Community Development Employment Projects scheme in 2009 and is currently undertaking research on its replacement—the Community Development Program—as well as other federally funded schemes including the Vocational Training and Employment Centres and Employment Parity Initiative. She is working alongside Lisa Fowkes and Will Sanders as a lead investigator on the Australian Research Council project ‘Implementing the remote jobs and communities program: How is policy working in Indigenous communities?’

Will Sanders began studying the Community Development Employment Projects scheme as part of a PhD, undertaken from 1982 to 1985, on the inclusion of Aboriginal Australians in the social security system. Will was an associate of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) from its establishment in 1990 and became a staff member in 1993. During his years of employment at CAEPR, Will has continued to write about the social security system (CAEPR Monograph No. 15, Discussion Paper 212) and about Community Development Employment Projects (Discussion Papers 5, 54, 141, 149, 224, CAEPR Monograph No. 20). Will is now a Chief Investigator on an Australian Research Council Linkage Project with Jobs Australia studying the new remote-area employment and income support program from 2013.

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