The achievements and limitations of the CDEP (Community Development Employment Projects) scheme: A 20 year perspective

The achievements and limitations of the CDEP (Community Development Employment Projects) scheme: A 20 year perspective Journal Article

Social Security Journal

  • Author(s): Altman, J.
  • Published: 1997

Abstract: To summarise, looking back over the last 20 years, the major achievements of the CDEP scheme would have to include, in no order of priority: its undiminished popularity; its sheer survival; its ability to create a mechanism to facilitate productive activity in many contexts; and its ability (and potential) to supplement low cash incomes that would otherwise hit a very low welfare ceiling, especially in remote, relatively underdeveloped, regions. Its limitations include the lack of tangible and convincing evidence of success, be it in income supplementation, employment-creation, community development or enterprise-creation; the absence of well-defined exit options; and continuing administrative problems, especially in maintaining accurate schedules of participants. The survival of the CDEP scheme probably depends, at least in part, on a concerted government effort to resolve a number of marginal eligibility problems that are examined by the author of the next article. It might depend also on the relative performance of the mainstream work-for-the-dole scheme as a benchmark that might highlight the efficiency or inefficiency of the CDEP scheme. There seems little doubt to me that the scheme is here to stay; I am just left to ponder whether I will be back here in 20 years to provide a 40-year perspective on this most enigmatic scheme.

Notes: A good paper that provides an overview of the CDEP Scheme written by (Altman) the person who has been intimately involved with the scheme from the outset. Author = comments that he was involved in the CDEP originally in its first year when it was given a pilot trial; and now he is able to comment on the achievements and limitations of the scheme that after 20 years has had relatively unchanged operations. At the time of writing, Altman comments that although the article is about the past, it is also about the future because the CDEP Scheme is being reviewed by the Howard Government (Note: this is also written about in many other recent articles; the fact that the government is reviewing the scheme). The paper addresses the CDEP Scheme in the following way: (a) a lengthy coverage of the genesis of the scheme, its nature, past reviews, its survival and expansion. (b) 4 subjects are addressed: (i) the scheme's popularity (ii) the scheme's multiple objectives (iii) the scheme's various components (iv) the scheme's administration. (c) looking at the future of the scheme: the difference between the avoidable and unavoidable are discussed. The reference list of this article obviously contains some very good references (some out-dated); the ones I felt most relevant have been listed separately in endnote, indicated as links above.

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Suggested Citation
Altman, J., 1997, The achievements and limitations of the CDEP (Community Development Employment Projects) scheme: A 20 year perspective, Journal Article, viewed 11 December 2019,

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