Expert economist working to reduce disadvantage in NT 

Professor Bill Mitchell has assisted with programs to assist disadvantaged communities around the world

A world-renowned employment and equity expert has joined Charles Darwin University and hopes to assist with capacity building in remote Indigenous communities and in Timor Leste.

Professor Bill Mitchell has travelled the world with the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE) and has landed in Darwin for two years as a Professor of Economics with the Faculty of Law, Education, Business and Arts at CDU.

CofFEE was established in 1998 as an official research centre at the University of Newcastle, and promotes research aimed at restoring full employment, and achieving an economy that delivers equitable outcomes, particularly for the disadvantaged.

“It is all about creating work for people that will not only improve their own situation, but also improve local infrastructure,” Professor Mitchell said.

Disadvantaged people in South Africa have already reaped the rewards of Professor Mitchell’s work after CofFEE assisted a government program to employ more than one million people and lifted them above the poverty line.

“The program in South Africa not only provided work and skills development but also built basic community infrastructure such as drainage and roads,” Professor Mitchell said.

While in Darwin, Professor Mitchell hopes to use his wealth of experience to work with CDU staff and government agencies to build capacity within Timor Leste and remote Indigenous communities in the NT, in addition to continuing his work elsewhere.

“Our aim is to improve the outcomes for disadvantaged people, by conducting research that will influence innovative new approaches to public policy.”

Professor Mitchell said that one of the biggest issues facing disadvantaged communities in remote areas was the lack of a functioning labour market, which meant that direct public job creation was necessary.

“There is no point investing in programs without putting in the groundwork to talk to the community about their motivations and cultural values, and assessing literacy and skill levels to determine the effectiveness of a regional labour market,” he said.

“The long-term aim is then to develop economic policy and evaluation frameworks that can guide informed investment in delivering regional development programs.”

Professor Mitchell previously held the Research Chair in Economics at the University of Newcastle and is the inaugural director of CofFEE. He has published extensively on wage and price inflation, unemployment, modern monetary macroeconomic theory and policy, and regional science. He has worked in many developing countries with various multilateral agencies such as the ILO and the Asian Development Bank.