Dr Zoe Gordon

Dr Zoe Gordon
  • Biography/ Background

    Zoe Gordon is an Adjunct Fellow at the University of Adelaide and since she began her Doctoral studies in 2005, her research has focused on Indigenous policy and the relationship between colonialism and neoliberalism in Australia. She has acted in a number of teaching roles at the University of Adelaide since this time, as well as various research roles. She worked as a Research Associate with Professor Carol Bacchi (and others) on the Gender Analysis Project, which linked the University of Adelaide and four South Australian Government bodies and the University of Western Australia and six Western Australian Government bodies. The project was funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant titled ‘Gendering Impact Assessment: A new framework for producing gender inclusive policy’. As a result of her examination of Indigenous policy in Australia over the last 20 years, Zoe has become a strong advocate for the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme which was a widely popular First Nations work creation program. More recently, Zoe has been highly critical of the program installed in its place (in remote areas) – the Community Development Program (CDP).

  • Publications

    Gordon, Zoe (2022) ‘Road to ruin: The Howard Government, the concept of Aboriginal

    welfare dependency and the fall of the CDEP scheme’, Australian Journal of Politics and

    History, vol. 68, no. 2, pp. 176-196.


    Gordon, Zoe (2010) ‘Deconstructing “Aboriginal welfare dependency”: Using Postcolonial

    theory to reorientate Indigenous affairs’, Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues, vol. 14, no.

    1-3, pp. 14-30.


    Gordon, Zoe, Binns, Jennifer, Palmer, Elyane, Bacchi, Carol and Eveline, Joan (2007)

    ‘Gender analysis and social change: Comprehensive comparisons’

    (Primary author of report prepared for the Gender Analysis Project, funded by 2005

    Australian Research Council Linkage Grant).

  • Professional Interests

    My research interests have led me to study the various shapes and forms colonialism takes in contemporary Australia and around the world, and the co-dependency of colonialism/neo-colonialism and capitalism/neoliberalism. I am interested in the consequences of the longevity of colonialism in terms of power discrepancies, unjust social arrangements and in Australia specifically the continued denial of First Nations sovereignty and rights, including the right to be different. More generally I have been drawn to the role played by language and discursive framing in perpetuating ethically problematic paradigms, structures and relationships. In this respect I have been excited by the usefulness of Poststructuralism and Postmodernism generally and Carol Bacchi's highly effective step by step guide to applying their insights to policy analysis – the What's the Problem Represented to be?' (WPR) approach. I have found the practical application of these theoretical insights particularly useful when engaged strategically from the oppositionary positioning of Postcolonial theory. There is no shortage of examples of the pivotal role played by words and silences in securing uneven power relations. One such example is the harmful construct of ‘Aboriginal welfare dependency’. I argue the use of this concept facilitated the catastrophic closure of the Community Employment Development Projects (CDEP) scheme. The CDEP scheme was an innovative and widely popular community controlled First Nations work creation program in place across Australia (introduced in 1977) which has been replaced (in remote areas) with the punitive and highly unpopular Community Development Program (CDP). Through my work in the area of Indigenous policy, employment policy, and gender analysis, I stress the importance of the way the world is thought about and talked about, in the policy arena and beyond. 

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Entry last updated: Monday, 14 Aug 2023