The Centre

The Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) is a unique national and international centre, a leading research think-tank on Indigenous policy issues, and operates in a complex political arena. Since 1990 it has established an unrivalled reputation and track record in a difficult public policy area of national significance. A central goal at CAEPR is to continue to create and build long-term partnerships with Indigenous stakeholders with a view to supporting and working with key individuals and organisations in the areas of research, education and policy development.

The Centre is funded from a variety of sources including the ANU, the Australian Research Council, industry and philanthropic partners, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and State and Territory governments. The principal objective of CAEPR is to undertake high-quality, independent research that will assist in furthering the social and economic development and empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout Australia. It aims to combine academic and teaching excellence on Indigenous economic and social development and public policy with realism, objectivity and relevance.

Our mission

The CAEPR mission is to undertake multidisciplinary social science research on Indigenous policy and development that is excellent by the best international and disciplinary standards, and that informs intellectual understanding, public debate, policy formation and community action.

Our vision

The CAEPR vision is to set the standard of excellence in research, education and community engagement on Indigenous policy and development.

Research and education

CAEPR undertakes evidence-based research on a rolling triennial research program. This theoretically and historically informed scholarship is underpinned by rigorous methodology.

The Centre's education role extends to undergraduate courses, masters and doctoral scholars, and our Graduate Program in Indigenous Policy, which is located as a specialisation in the Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development (MAAPD), or the highly flexible Graduate Studies Select Program at ANU. 

CAEPR staff also conduct fee for service courses under the auspices of the Australian National Institute for Public Policy, in the form of executive workshops on Indigenous-related topics.


Each year CAEPR staff undertake commissioned consultancies for agencies such as land councils and native title representative bodies, Commonwealth and State government departments and agencies.

All consultancies undertaken by CAEPR staff must be approved by the Director. Consultancies must be closely associated with CAEPR's overall research objectives and consultancy outcomes are published either by commissioning agencies or by CAEPR.


CAEPR was established as a small research unit within the Faculty of Arts at The Australian National University (ANU) in April 1990, with Professor Jon Altman as foundation Director. This initiative grew out of a recommendation in the Report of the Committee of Review of Aboriginal Employment and Training Programs in 1985, which called for an increase in economic policy research in the Aboriginal affairs arena. In 1999, CAEPR became one of only six University Centres at ANU, as recommended in the 1996-97 Karmel review of the Centre. This reflected its growing stature, and also signalled' an across-campus and national role for CAEPR.  In 2010, CAEPR reached a landmark 20 years as an applied research centre at ANU. In January 2010, CAEPR became part of the  Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) in the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS). Professor John Taylor was appointed Director of CAEPR in April 2010 and on his retirement, Professor Matthew Gray was appointed in 2013.  Dr Jerry Schwab was appointed in June 2015 and was Director until his retirement on 30 June, 2018. Dr Janet Hunt was interim Director from July 2018 to March 2019.  First Nations Professor of Indigenous Policy Tony Dreise was appointed in March 2019, see more details regarding his appointment here.  Professor Dreise departed CAEPR in September 2021 to take up the role of Pro-Vice Chancellor (First Nations Education and Research) at the University of Southern Queensland.  Professor Matthew Gray has been appointed as the Centre's Acting Director from September 2021.  FIrst Nations Professor of Indigenous Policy Valerie Cooms was appointed as the Centre's Director in September 2022.

Image gallery

Updated:  29 January 2024/Responsible Officer:  Centre Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications