Community Development Employment Project

Community Development Employment Projects are the Commonwealths largest Indigenous program. They began in 1977 at the request of several remote Communities as an alternative to receiving unemployment benefits (‘the dole’). Participation in the CDEP scheme is voluntary.

CDEP accounts for around one quarter of Indigenous employment and has grown to encompass over 32,000 participants across Australia in Urban, Rural and Remote areas.

In it’s beginning CDEP was based on community development with projects ranging from housing and road maintenance to artefact production and horticultural enterprises as well as maintaining the Cultural integrity of the Indigenous Community

Over the last few years the emphasis and focus of CDEP has changed to such an extent that meaningful Employment away from CDEP is seen as an intended outcome for many CDEP participants. However the maintenance and preservation of Indigenous Culture and Communities still remains as a major focus of CDEP

Aims of the CDEP scheme

The CDEP scheme aims to:

  • o Create a range of employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • o Provide funding and support to Community Organisations.
  • o Empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make decisions about the development of their Community.
  • o Provide Indigenous people with work to enhance individual skills, community self-management and economic development.
  • o Provide work activities, which will improve Community infrastructure.
  • o Provide Participants with training to develop skills required to undertake work activities and improve their ability to gain employment in the mainstream labour market, and support activities that provide on-going employment opportunities to all groups, including women and youth.
  • o Maintain, preserve and restore Cultural integrity to Communities.
  • o Provide a base of trained and job ready participants to facilitate the move into meaningful employment off CDEP.