Abstract: One of the most pressing and enduring concerns in Australian Indigenous policymaking is the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It has often been at the top of successive governments' Indigenous affairs agendas and, since 2008, 'closing the gap' in employment rates between Indigenous and other Australians has been a specific policy goal. Yet the employment disparity is growing, not declining. What has been going wrong? This introductory chapter provides a historical overview of policy approaches to reduce disparities in the labour market situation of Indigenous and settler Australians, focusing on the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme. Edited excerpts with additional information from publication.