4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014-15  
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APPENDIX 3: UNDERSTANDING LABOUR FORCE STATUS AND THE INTRODUCTION OF THE REMOTE JOBS AND COMMUNITIES PROGRAM


Background

1 The Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) program was established in 1977, primarily as an income support and community development program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote, rural and urban areas. CDEP enabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations to pool the unemployment benefit entitlements of individuals into direct wages for those people who chose to participate in local employment in various community programs as an alternative to receiving individual income support payments.

2 Job Services Australia (JSA) operated nationally from 1998 until 30 June 2015 (named Job Network from 1998 to 2008), as an employment services system that supported job seekers and employers. JSA providers offered personalised support to help job seekers find a job, and they also connected job seekers with a range of government initiatives including training programs and Work for the Dole.

3 From 1 July 2013 the Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP) started operating across remote Australia, replacing CDEP and JSA. RJCP provided employment support services for people living in remote Australia, and maintained many of the key elements of JSA regarding job seeker activities and obligations. RJCP also maintained some of the activities and community services provided through CDEP.

4 People working under CDEP received wages and were considered to have an employer/employee relationship. CDEP participants were classified as employed in various ABS surveys including the monthly Labour Force Survey, the 2008 NATSISS and the 2012–13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS).

5 RJCP participants received income support payments and were not considered to have an employer/employee relationship. RJCP participants were not classified as employed in the monthly Labour Force Survey or the 2014–15 NATSISS. Instead they were classified as unemployed or not in the labour force, depending on whether or not they had been actively looking for, and were available to, work.

6 The classification of CDEP participants as employed will be referred to in this Appendix as the Historical method.

7 The classification of RJCP participants as unemployed or not in the labour force will be referred to in this Appendix as the current method.

8 The RJCP scheme existed in remote areas of Australia only. While the CDEP scheme existed in some non-remote areas, it predominantly operated in remote areas. This Appendix will focus on labour force status in remote areas of Australia.

9 From 1 July 2015 RJCP was replaced by the Community Development Programme (CDP). This change occurred after the 2014–15 NATSISS enumeration period, and is not reflected in the data.

Effect on labour force status estimates

10 It is reasonable to assume that there was some impact on the estimates of labour force status with the phasing out of CDEP and the introduction of RJCP. The withdrawal of CDEP meant participants were no longer classified as employed; the introduction of RJCP may have effected whether a person was unemployed or not in the labour force. However, participants of CDEP were not necessarily also RJCP participants.

11 In the 2008 NATSISS and the 2012–13 AATSIHS, CDEP participants were identified through specific questions asked of respondents who said they had a job in the week prior to interview. However, it is not possible to determine, retrospectively, if CDEP participants would have been classified as unemployed or not in the labour force under the current method, as they were considered to be employed and not were not asked whether they had been looking for, or were available to, work.

12 It is possible to calculate the 2008 and 2012–13 AATSIHS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment to population ratio using the current method, by removing those persons who were CDEP participants from the employed population.

13 It is not possible to reliably identify all RJCP participants in the 2014–15 NATSISS, as there were no explicit questions asking about RJCP participation. In remote areas, people who had a job in the week prior to interview were asked where their payments came from. Those who indicated 'Centrelink' were treated as RJCP participants and sequenced to questions relating to job search activities, and were classified as unemployed or not in the labour force. As RJCP replaced JSA and CDEP, many RJCP participants would have been undertaking JSA-type job search activities, rather than CDEP-type work activities. Those RJCP participants who did not consider themselves to be working in the week prior to interview are unable to be identified.

14 As a result, it is not possible to apply the Historical method to 2014–15 NATSISS data. For this reason, this Appendix will focus on the employment to population ratio, where the current method has been retrospectively applied to the 2008 NATSISS and the 2012–13 AATSIHS. This data allows the employment to population ratio to be examined over time in the absence of either CDEP or RJCP participants being included as employed, and to provide perspective in understanding labour force status following the phasing out of the CDEP, and its replacement with RJCP.

Table 1. Employment to population ratio — 2008 to 2014–15 (a)


2008
2008
2012-13
2012-13
2014–15

Current method
Historical method
Current method
Historical method
Current method
%
%
%
%
%
Remote Australia
37.5
46.7
42.0
45.5
38.6
Very Remote Australia
27.8
51.6
29.6
40.4
33.6

Total remote areas
31.4
49.8
34.1
42.2
35.6


(a) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over in remote areas.
Source(s): 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2012–13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey.