Community Development Employment Projects Participation (CDEP)

This variable indicates whether an employed person's job is part of the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) program. The CDEP scheme is provided by the Federal Government and enables participants (usually members of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities) to exchange unemployment benefits for opportunities to undertake work and training in activities which are managed by a local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community organisation. Participants in the program are therefore classified as employed.

A question about CDEP was first asked in the 2006 Census, although it was collected as a category of GNGP (Industry Sector) for the 2001 Census. The data for the 2001 Census is not comparable with 2011 and 2006 data, as 2001 data also included persons enumerated on forms other than the Special Indigenous Form (similar to the Interviewer Household Form), who reported "CDEP" in their written responses to the work questions. Further information on Census Topics 1911-2011, can be found in How Australia Takes a Census (cat. no. 2903.0).

This data is only applicable to those persons who were enumerated using an Interviewer Household Form (IHF), a form type primarily used in discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia. The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples enumerated using IHFs in the states and territories where IHFs were used are: New South Wales (2.7%), Queensland (12.9%), Western Australia (17.7%), South Australia (10.4%), the Northern Territory (65.8%) and Other Territories (74.6%). Some non-Indigenous persons were also enumerated on an IHF and a number of these were recorded as being a "Participant worker in CDEP", making up 3.1% of persons in this category.

CDEP is derived from mark box responses to question 41 on the IHF ("Last week did the person have a paid job of any kind?"). The responses to this question are captured automatically from mark box responses on the form so the risk of processing error is minimal. Sample checks are undertaken to ensure an acceptable level of quality. Because of the way it is derived, there is no non-response rate for CDEP. However 6.8% of applicable persons did not answer question 41 on the IHF. More information is available from the 2011 Census non-response quality statement.

Care should be exercised when using the CDEP data item, as its limited collection in the 2011 Census means it cannot be used as a count of persons who are participating in the CDEP program. In addition, as question 41 refers to a person's "main job"; jobs for which CDEP is only a component may not be reported as CDEP jobs. It does however, provide information on the characteristics of those persons for whom it was collected. It is advisable to use the data item Indigenous Status (INGP) in conjunction with CDEP because they are strongly related; 97.0% of the people indicating their job was in the CDEP program were of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin.

In July 2009, the Government announced some changes to the CDEP scheme, with the result that it was discontinued in non-remote communities where the economy was deemed to be well-established. In remote communities, the focus of the CDEP program was changed from directly providing employment, to building the skills of participants to find jobs outside of CDEP. Only those that were already in the program as at 1 July 2009 could continue to receive wages, and new CDEP participants from this date were required to apply for income support payments, rather than receive wages payments. These participants are classified as employed until June 2017, provided they continue to meet eligibility requirements. Between 2006 and 2011, the CDEP reforms have resulted in a decline in the number of people who reported that their job was in the CDEP program, from 14,497 people in 2006 to 5,005 people in 2011.

More information on CDEP is available in the 2011 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0).

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