Regional, Economic & Workforce Development

The Regional, Economic & Workforce Development (REWD) theme explores the questions, issues, challenges and opportunities for planning, developing, implementing and supporting integrated and sustainable regional and economic development in diverse contexts. signs

REWD’s expertise and capabilities include workforce planning and development, local and regional economic modeling, economic evaluation and advice on Northern development projects. Industry based research supports enterprises and agencies to improve productivity in complex operational scenarios. 

REWD looks at working environments in different geographic spaces, as well as changing policy environments, with a focus on northern and central Australia and South East Asian contexts. Group members have demonstrated research capabilities linked to workforce and industry development across the following industrial sectors: agriculture extension, food industries, tourism, international education and migration, health workforce planning, arts markets, government services delivery, and South-East Asian economic cooperation.

Through innovative research, REWD articulates the perspectives and actions of staff, institutions and employers under context-specific economic and social pressures, and identifies, applies and evaluates approaches that build local capacity now and into the future. 

REWD’s research supports decision making that utilises innovative institutional design to better understand and support the growth of sustainable industries, regional enterprises, and manage change as part of the business cycle and transforming the northern industrial landscape. The research examines key issues at a local scale, and as part of larger regional systems. It is also embedded within a global context – contributing to international debates on regional development, economic geography and labour force dynamics and equity.


The Regional, Economic & Workforce Development teamwdmpl

The work of the REWD group looks at the ways different systems operate when they intersect, such as:

  • The pathways between learning and workforce systems
  • The connections between micro enterprises and multinational business, regional development policy and equitable economic futures. 

It also assesses the potential impact of investment and economic policy implementation, focusing on transitions between enterprise, work and learning, and explores the issues associated with engaging economically and socially marginalised northern residents. 

This work helps identify key factors to ensure high-quality training delivery in urban, regional and remote sites, and considers place-based issues related to educational and business policy, professional development, pedagogy, resources and individual engagement.

The REWD team of researchers cover a range of issues, including: 

  • Workforce and Economics: workforce improvements support societal wellbeing and coherence resulting in diversified and resilient northern economies.
  • Wellbeing on Country: sustainably managed cultural and environmental resources, including land and sea management driven by local knowledges, leading to social co-benefits with policy supporting local decision making and capacity development
  • Climate Change/Heat Stress: climate adaptation for Federal Government brief
  • National Workplace Health and Safety Standards: leading to labour intensive industries (adaptation, productivity, retention)
  • Managing complex socio-economic systems: regional planning critique providing data for hazard management
  • Sustainable development of Indigenous land and sea resources: framework for NT Marine Protected Areas legislation
  • Regional labour markets: unlocking local untapped labour markets, international education
  • Aboriginal engagement in developing the north: scalable for Aboriginal participation in Northern development

Our Impact

Options to Fund Growth in the NT Training Market Impact Case Study

The Options to Fund Growth in the NT Training Market project involved extensive consultation over a 12-month period with key stakeholders. The aim was to support the Northern Territory Government to develop a policy and legislative framework to increase the funding of Vocational Education and Training in a constrained budget environment in line with agreed Council of Australian Governments' reform principles. 

The results of the project that were reported to the NT Government led to changes in policy, legislation and operational processes.

Activities included:

  • The development of a discussion paper on 'Options to fund growth in the NT training market’
  • Structured face to face interviews with: industry and community organisations; a range of public, private for-profit and not-for-profit training providers; relevant Commonwealth agencies; and a group consultation with NT Training Advisory Councils
  • Electronic surveys with all NT registered training organisations, Job Services Providers and RJCP providers
  • Structured interviews with selected interstate jurisdictions that have implemented similar vocational education and training market reforms in the last three years; and
  • Public and social media campaigns seeking responses to the discussion paper.

Selected projects

Northern Research Alliance

CDU/Northern Institute and CSIRO aim to develop an active, collaborative relationship with potential for pooling expertise to advance understanding of topics related to social policy research related to health, biosecurity and systemic approaches to policy in remote regions, particularly in relation to northern Australia.

Heat Stress Research Partnership

The Partnership formed in response to a shared concern about the challenge Heat Stress posed to the safety, health and wellbeing of the workforce in the region, particularly during the ‘Build-up’ and Wet season.  It links the three northern Group Training Organisations from northern WA, NT and Queensland with research expertise from Charles Darwin University’s Northern Institute, Menzies School of Health Research, James Cook University and RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research.  Visit the webpage or contact Dr Elspeth Oppermann for more information.

Building resilience in Indigenous communities through engagement - a focus on Biosecurity threats

This project aims to enhance the ability of Indigenous communities and relevant regulatory authorities and industries to better manage social, environmental and economic impacts of biosecurity threats, and to participate in biosecurity strategies by describing and evaluating bicultural engagement models that build empowerment and ownership in indigenous communities and their responses to those threats.

Criminology and Criminal Justice Research

NI and the Australian Institute of Criminology have developed a successful research partnership providing greater criminology research capabilities to CDU researchers.  With changes in the national investment in criminology research, an opportunity has now arisen to develop a service model to continue this research at NI, covering topics such as the nature of crime in the NT, northern Australia and neighbouring Asia-Pacific sectors; prevention and responses to crime; and justice and corrective services. 

Northern Research Futures Collaborative Research Network

In collaboration with the Australian National University, James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Charles Darwin University was awarded $5 million under the Australian Government's Collaborative Research Network to form a partnership that creates a national program of collaborative social, coastal/marine and environmental research and innovation in the northern Australian region - the Northern Research Futures (NRF) alliance.

The NRF is a multi-disciplinary collaboration to establish the important research architecture essential to meeting the national challenges associated with living sustainably in the remote tropic zone and also the interfaces between community and environment.