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Will Sanders, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research Research School of Social Sciences College of Arts and Social.

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Presentation on theme: "Will Sanders, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research Research School of Social Sciences College of Arts and Social."— Presentation transcript:

1 Will Sanders, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research Research School of Social Sciences College of Arts and Social Sciences Coombs Bastard Child: The Troubled Life of CDEP 2012 Nugget Coombs Memorial Lecture

2 All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. William Shakespeare: As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

3 Lecture Outline – 7 Sections 1.Coombs and the Council for Aboriginal Affairs 2.From the Council to the Birth of CDEP 3.From Failure to Thrive to a Flourishing Adolescence 4.The Troubles of Big City, Adult Life 5.A Changing Organisational Environment 6.A Lingering Old Age 7.Generations & the Moral Structure of Indigenous Affairs

4 Coombs – Life and Career Born 1906 southern WA Teacher 1930s London School of Economics PhD 1940s DG Post- War Reconstruction Governor central bank Nov Chair Council for Aboriginal Affairs (Also ANU Chancellor) Chair Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration Visiting Fellow CRES ANU

5 Council for Aboriginal Affairs 3 members – Coombs, Dexter, Stanner Work on land issues (in Northern Territory) No Progress – Resistance Dept of Interior McMahons 1972 Speech – Tent Embassy Labor/ Bryant still not easy Labor/ Cavanagh 1974/75 - better Liberal/ Viner 1976 – changed basis of policy & competence, concern, capacity Retired but continues to work with Viner & DAA on the CDEP idea

6 Birth of CDEP (1) 1976 IWP Aboriginal Employment 3 DAA, 1 DSS, 1 DEIR, 1 Education Term of Ref on Unemployment Benefits to Aboriginals living as communities Problem Idea of using UB to create employment via community grants – DAA keen DSS resists – history lecture, 2 drawbacks

7 Community Grants Idea - two major drawbacks (a) charges of discrimination would be made against the Department of Social Security if an attempt were made to redirect payment of the unemployment benefit to the Community Council without the approval of individual beneficiaries within the community; and (b) employment funded by using unemployment benefit would disqualify the beneficiaries for further unemployment benefit in that they would no longer be unemployed (IWP on Aboriginal Employment 1976: 31-32).

8 Birth of CDEP (2) DAA, Viner and Coombs persist Pitjantjatjara- A Strategy for Survival CDEP announced in Parliament May 1977 Only one mention of DSS Big win for DAA, Viner and Coombs But without DSS support or involvement

9 CDEP Guidelines Grants to Aboriginal community councils …. clan groups ….provide employment to unemployed members of an Aboriginal community in projects… specifically requested by a community. Employment to be agreed between the individual communities and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs …….economic ventures; town management activities; social advancement; and environment improvement. Amount should not exceed the total entitlement of individual members to unemployment benefits as determined by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in consultation with the Department of Social Security ….. for the purchase of materials and equipment required for the implementation of a particular project. Community encouraged to establish its own method of remuneration for its members …. all unemployed community members … given the opportunity to participate ….. guaranteed a minimum income approximating his normal unemployment benefit entitlement (Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates House of Representatives 26 May 1977).

10 Coombs analysis of the critical question (1) While there does not appear to have been any general policy decision, the practice appears to be growing of endorsing applications for unemployment benefit from Aborigines in these areas. The following aspects of the situation are relevant: 1.Unemployment benefit probably provides as much, if not more, income than Aborigines would earn from wages if work was freely available and they were able to choose freely between such work and unpaid leisure for their own pursuits. 2.Although work for wages is not now generally available (a) There are socially important tasks to be undertaken of the special work projects type; (b) Aborigines could be trained to reduce the need for scarce and more expensive white employees. 3.Until recently unemployment benefit was not expected in most Pitjantjatjara communities 4.It seems irrational to pay men to be idle when socially valuable works are being terminated.

11 Coombs analysis of the critical question (2) I believe it would be rational and practical to solve this policy issue in the following way: a)periodically (quarterly) officers of the Department of Employment should visit Aboriginal communities in remote areas and assess, in consultation with the community and Department of Aboriginal Affairs, the employment prospects and the probable number of eligible unemployed; b)a grant should be made, through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, to the community on a quarterly basis equivalent to the unemployment benefit which would have been received by those assessed as likely to be unemployed; c)the community should be authorised to use this grant to employ its members on approved work projects – on a basis which would provide them with an average of three or four days work a week; d)Aborigines from these communities should then be regarded as ineligible for unemployment benefit on the grounds that paid work is available to them within their own community; e)The Department of Aboriginal Affairs should supplement these employment grants to cover material and equipment costs for approved projects provided that a reasonable contribution was made by the community to these costs.

12 Understanding Government as a Stage/Arena Actors – Individuals like HC Coombs Corporate Actors – Departments and other Agencies DAA Department of Aboriginal Affairs DSS Department of Social Security DoFDepartment of Finance DEIRDepartment of Employment and Industrial Relations ATSICAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Centrelink DFaCSDepartment of Families and Community Services DEWRDepartment of Employment and Workplace Relations FaHCSIA Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs DEEWRDepartment of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations

13 Lecture Outline – 7 Sections 1.Coombs and the Council for Aboriginal Affairs 2.From the Council to the Birth of CDEP 3.From Failure to Thrive to a Flourishing Adolescence 4.The Troubles of Big City, Adult Life 5.A Changing Organisational Environment 6.A Lingering Old Age 7.Generations & the Moral Structure of Indigenous Affairs

14 Competing Principles/Values in Indigenous Affairs Equality of Opportunity Autonomy/Choice + Group Difference & Diversity - Guardianship Socioeconomic Equality Individual Legal Equality

15 Dominant Debates s Equality of Opportunity Autonomy/Choice + Group Difference & Diversity - Guardianship Socioeconomic Equality Individual Legal Equality 1930s 1960s

16 Dominant Debates 1960s -1990s Equality of Opportunity Autonomy/Choice + Group Difference & Diversity - Guardianship Socioeconomic Equality Individual Legal Equality 1960s 1970s- 1990s

17 Dominant Debates 2000s Equality of Opportunity Autonomy/Choice + Group Difference & Diversity - Guardianship Socioeconomic Equality Individual Legal Equality 2000s

18 CDEP & The Coombs Experiment Experiment as a Positive Term CDEP was Coombs greatest policy influence 1980s/90s critics couldnt identify better options Coombs the imaginative policy pragmatist CDEP a great tribute to Coombs Geographic, generational and departmental dynamics just too strong Things move on! RIP CDEP and Nugget


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