10 March 2011
At a national level, a focus on gross domestic product has been rightly criticised as being too narrow an approach for designing policy. What is true at the national level is also true for individuals and families with regards to income. Having said that, most careful studies show a positive (though non-linear) relationship between income and most measures of wellbeing. Furthermore, stable, well-paid employment remains one of the key protective factors against poverty and social exclusion. The first part of this lecture will consider the relationship between employment, income and wellbeing at the individual and household level. While the generally positive relationship between employment and wellbeing is true on average, many Indigenous Australians obtain significant resources from other livelihood activities. These activities and their relationship with wellbeing will be the focus of the second part of the lecture. Given the changes and forthcoming demise of the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme, a particular focus of this lecture will be on the differences in various measures of wellbeing between those involved in the CDEP scheme and those in other employment and the likely associated effect of the removal of the scheme on Indigenous wellbeing nationally and by geography. A further aspect of this lecture will be the way in which income and other resources are shared within households and within communities.