Will Sanders

Will Sanders is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) at The Australian National University.

Will joined CAEPR as a Research Fellow in 1993 and was appointed as Fellow in 1999 and Senior Fellow in 2007. His undergraduate training was in government, public administration, and political science, and his PhD was on the inclusion of Aboriginal people in the social security system. Will’s research interests cover the political and social aspects of Indigenous policy, as well the economic. He regularly works on Indigenous people’s participation in elections, on housing and social security policy issues, including the Community Development Employment Projects scheme, and on federal and intergovernmental aspects of Indigenous affairs policy.

Engaging Indigenous Economy »

Debating diverse approaches

Edited by: Will Sanders
The engagement of Indigenous Australians in economic activity is a matter of long-standing public concern and debate. Jon Altman has been intellectually engaged with Indigenous economic activity for almost 40 years, most prominently through his elaboration of the concept of the hybrid economy, and most recently through his sustained and trenchant critique of policy. He has inspired others also to engage with these important issues, both through his writing and through his position as the foundation Director of The Australian National University’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy research from 1990 to 2010. The year 2014 saw both Jon’s 60th birthday and his retirement from CAEPR. This collection of essays marks those events. Contributors include long‑standing colleagues from the disciplines of economics, anthropology and political science, and younger scholars who have been inspired by Jon’s approach in developing their own research projects. All point to the complexity as well as the importance of engaging with Indigenous economic activity — conceptually, empirically and as a strategic concern for public policy.

Contested Governance »

Culture, power and institutions in Indigenous Australia

Edited by: Janet Hunt, Diane Smith, Stephanie Garling, Will Sanders
It is gradually being recognised by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians that getting contemporary Indigenous governance right is fundamental to improving Indigenous well-being and generating sustained socioeconomic development. This collection of papers examines the dilemmas and challenges involved in the Indigenous struggle for the development and recognition of systems of governance that they recognise as both legitimate and effective. The authors highlight the nature of the contestation and negotiation between Australian governments, their agents, and Indigenous groups over the appropriateness of different governance processes, values and practices, and over the application of related policy, institutional and funding frameworks within Indigenous affairs. The long-term, comparative study reported in this monograph has been national in coverage, and community and regional in focus. It has pulled together a multidisciplinary team to work with partner communities and organisations to investigate Indigenous governance arrangements–the processes, structures, scales, institutions, leadership, powers, capacities, and cultural foundations–across rural, remote and urban settings. This ethnographic case study research demonstrates that Indigenous and non-Indigenous governance systems are intercultural in respect to issues of power, authority, institutions and relationships. It documents the intended and unintended consequences–beneficial and negative–arising for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians from the realities of contested governance. The findings suggest that the facilitation of effective, legitimate governance should be a policy, funding and institutional imperative for all Australian governments. This research was conducted under an Australian Research Council Linkage Project, with Reconciliation Australia as Industry Partner.

The Indigenous Welfare Economy and the CDEP Scheme »

In recent debates about the Indigenous welfare economy, the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme has not been given the attention it deserves. It represents a major adaptation of the Australian welfare system to the particular social and economic circumstances of Indigenous people. Part I of this volume contains overview papers which place the CDEP program in its wider cultural, sociopolitical, and economic contexts. The contributions in Part II address policy and policy-related issues which impact directly, or indirectly, on the structure and function of the CDEP scheme as a whole and of individual CDEP projects. Part III presents research based case-studies of particular CDEP projects in their regional contexts, drawn from the Northern Territory, South Australia, and Victoria. Part IV consists of short case studies, from the perspective of the participants themselves, of a number of CDEP organisations. These case studies provide an important perspective, taking up and providing a grass-roots view of many of the broader policy themes and concerns that are discussed elsewhere in the monograph. The crucial issue, addressed by many of the contributions, is how Indigenous self determination and the rights agenda, which argues for the unique and inherent rights of Indigenous Australians, will sit with (or in opposition to) the ‘mutual obligation’ of the Howard government’s welfare reform. The volume thus represents a contribution to an ongoing and important debate in current Australian social policy.

Making Sense of the Census »

Observations of the 2001 Enumeration in Remote Aboriginal Australia

Special enumeration procedures for Indigenous Australians were introduced in the 1971 Census, and have been a feature of the Australian national census ever since. In 2001, as in previous years, the Indigenous Enumeration Strategy (IES) involved the use of locally recruited, mostly Indigenous, interviewers and the administration of modified forms. This monograph presents the results of the first detailed comparative appraisal of the IES. Three CAEPR researchers observed the 2001 Census enumeration, each in a different remote-area context: Martin at Aurukun, a major Aboriginal township on Cape York Peninsula, Morphy at a small outstation community in the Northern Territory, and Sanders in the town camps of Alice Springs. The Australian Bureau of Statistics facilitated the research by granting the researchers status as official observers. The introductory chapter by John Taylor gives a brief history of the IES and sets the context for the research. The three case-studies form the central chapters, and are followed by a concluding chapter that summarises the findings and recommendations. While each locality had its unique characteristics, the authors found some common problems across the board which lead to general recommendations about the future design of the IES. They advocate a simplification of the enumeration procedure, the abandonment of the ‘two-form’ structure, the focusing of the IES more narrowly on people in ‘traditionally-oriented’ discrete Indigenous communities, and substantial changes in the design and content of any new ‘special Indigenous’ census form.