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Analysis and Comment (42)

Cathy Freeman’s racial background is Chinese, English and Aboriginal. AAP/ Dean Lewins

Culture, not colour, is the heart of Aboriginal identity

All too often the matter of Australian Aboriginal identity is decided superficially – by looking at a person’s face and general appearance. Colour is often the measure of Aboriginality, since the original…
Tony Abbott keeps appointing businessmen like Andrew Forrest, who have limited expertise in analysing evidence and developing social policy, to advise the government. AAP/Nikki Short

Forrest report ignores what works and why in Indigenous policy

The Creating Parity report on Indigenous employment and welfare, released last week by mining magnate Andrew Forrest, is in much the same vein as Tony Shepherd’s recent Commission of Audit. Forrest and…
In recent years, the service of troops from France’s then-colonies in both world wars has been the object of sustained presidential attention. EPA/Philippe Wojazer

Reconciliation or récupération? Indigenous soldiers in WWI

In vogue among the political left during the events in Paris in May 1968, the French term récupération refers to the danger of “the Establishment”, be it the government or a political party, seizing on…
Gavin Jones, the founder of the Deadly Awards, in 2011. Paul Miller/AAP Image

Gavin Jones – may he rest in peace and his legacy live on

Like many of us I am still in shock regarding news of the passing on the weekend of Deadly Vibe founder Gavin Jones at the age of 47. Launched in 1995 the magazine and media company had, in my opinion…
Are Australian policymakers trapped in a monolingual mindset? Katie Tegtmeyer

Muting Indigenous language support only widens the gap

Indigenous languages are under attack yet again. The federal budget, released on May 13, includes a substantial reduction of A$9.5 million over four years for the Indigenous Languages Support Programme…
Ethnic and Indigenous students report racism in Aussie schools, but who are the perpetrators? Shutterstock

Indigenous students skipping school to avoid bullying and racism

High-profile cases of racial discrimination on the sporting field and on public transport capture the media’s attention, but we hear less about racism in our schools. One survey of secondary students across…
Rosie Tasman Napurrurla, Warlpiri 2002, Ngurlu Jukurrpa (‘Grass Seed; Bush Grain Dreaming’), line etching on Hahnemuhle paper. Warnayaka Art Centre, Lajamanu, and Aboriginal Art Prints Network, Sydney

‘Dreamtime’ and ‘The Dreaming’ – an introduction

In 2002, Jeannie Herbert Nungarrayi, formerly a Warlpiri teacher at the Lajamanu School in the Tanami Desert of the Northern Territory, where I worked for many years first as a linguist and then as school…
John Pilger’s latest documentary, Utopia, puts the living conditions of Indigenous Australians in the spotlight. Chloe Geraghty/AAP Image

Review: Pilger’s Utopia shows us Aboriginal Australia in 2014

Welcome to Aboriginal Australia in the 21st Century – John Pilger’s Utopia. It was more than two decades ago when I saw John Pilger’s 1986 documentary The Secret Country for the first time. I was a 17-year-old…
The existence of a dispute tells us more than its adjudication is ever likely to. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Keating’s Redfern speech is still worth fighting over

The Redfern Park Speech, given by former Australian prime minister Paul Keating on December 10 1992, was a speech worth fighting for. It captured harsh truths about Australian history; it used those as…
Losing access to public housing has emerged as a major concern for Aboriginal Victorians. www.panoramio.com/photo/55450813 - taken by densil

How fear and funding undercut a fair go for Indigenous Victorians

Imagine being the mother of a young autistic boy, whose violent outbursts had caused $30,000 of damage to your rented home - but being too afraid to ask anyone for help for fear of having your son taken…
Of course, there is no singular Indigenous Australia. Angelo Soulas/AAP

What is Indigenous Australia in 2013?

What is Indigenous Australia in 2013? To begin to answer this question, I believe it is important to proceed with a few key caveats: 1) There is no singular Indigenous Australia. Thus, anything written…
Remote beauty: Twin Falls in Cape York. www.shutterstock.com/John Carnemolla

The battle for Cape York: whose vision will win out?

From its stunning wetlands in the west, across a dry central spine, to the coastal heathlands and rainforests in the east, Cape York Peninsula is deservedly world-famous for its rugged beauty. For many…
North Melbourne players Lindsay Thomas and Daniel Wells have been selected to represent the Australian Indigenous team in Ireland. AAP/Joe Castro

All-Indigenous teams should be seen on the world stage

The AFL’s Indigenous All-Stars' current tour of Ireland is the third overseas sporting tour by an all-Indigenous Australian team. The first took place 145 years ago with the 1868 Aboriginal cricket tour…
Koori women are the fastest-growing group in the Victorian prison population. Image from shutterstock.com

Unfinished business: reducing Indigenous incarceration

Every two years, the Productivity Commission releases a report on the level of Indigenous disadvantage in Australia. These reports make for fairly bleak reading: most indicators show no change, and in…
Hugging and making up: Samoan Moe Fonoti (right) embraces Logan Aboriginal elder Wayne Saunders, after talks to defuse local tensions. AAP/Dave Hunt

Bogans from the ‘burbs: confronting our hidden biases

Every city has them - the neighbourhoods that everyone else looks down on. In Australia, Sydney has “Westies”. Brisbane has “Logan bogans”. And in Melbourne, the western suburb of Sunshine is colloquially…
Aboriginal (Kija, Malnjin, Mirawoonga and Worla) cultural law holds that Argyle mine’s pink diamonds are scales of the female Baramundi creative Dreaming Being. Swamibu/Flickr

More than diamonds in the rough: resource struggles in the Kimberley

On Tuesday Lateline ran a story built around a report: “Developing the West Kimberley’s Resources” that the program breathlessly presented as a “secret plan” to industrialise the region, unlock its resources…
A sign outside an Aboriginal community near Darwin, noting the ban on consuming alcohol in the area. AAP/Xavier La Canna

New singers, old songs: alcohol bans in Aboriginal communities

The newly elected conservative governments in Queensland and the Northern Territory have opened the way to relaxing laws restricting access to alcohol in Aboriginal communities. In Queensland, a number…
Country Liberal government leader and Chief Minister Terry Mills has pledged to visit Northern Territory’s remote communities. AAP

Arrogant Indigenous policies that toppled NT Labor is a lesson for Feds

The remarkable feature of the Country Liberal Party’s win in the Northern Territory is how it presents two completely opposing aspects, with dramatically contrasting results between the towns and remote…
Despite a growth in the study of homelessness, significant gaps remain in our understanding of it. Flickr/Davco9200

Caught in a longterm cycle: homelessness in Australia

In Australia the homeless population has become more diverse over the last 20 years, with more young people, women and families experiencing homelessness. This has led to a growth in the study of homelessness…
A recent report into Indigenous education that points the finger at schools and teachers missed the point. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Indigenous education report misses the big picture

Any work that shines a spotlight on the appalling state of education for Indigenous Australians is to be welcomed. And so Helen and Mark Hughes are to be commended for their latest effort, a report called…
Peter Gurruwiwi of the Galpu nation getting ready to meet Dr Jill Charker from the Australian Bureau of Statisics during census collection in 2011. AAP/David Sproule

Australian Census: Indigenous Australia improves, but closing the gap is a long way off

AUSTRALIA BY NUMBERS: Today, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the first batch of its 2011 census data. We’ve asked some of the country’s top demographers and statisticians to crunch the numbers…
The Canberra Aboriginal tent embassy. Should the protest in Musgrave Park be seen in the same light? AAP/Alan Porrit

Musgrave Park and ‘the embassy in my own land’

This weekend, South Brisbane will play host to the Paniyiri Festival, one of Australia’s largest cultural events. From May 19 to 20, thousands are expected to join the celebrations and delight themselves…
Melbourne footballer Liam Jurrah returns to Melbourne after being charged with attacking a man in Alice Springs. AAP/David Crosling

What if Indigenous Australians didn’t play footy?

Imagine if the indigenous people of this country didn’t play Australian football, the only truly unique sport this continent country has ever created. As a percentage of the population, indigenous people…
The High Court decision against Palm Island rioter, Lex Wotton highlights concerns about how little our constitution does to protect us. AAP Image/Ian Hitchcock

Silencing Lex Wotton: Palm Island riot decision a blow for freedom of speech

When a prisoner has served their time, it’s difficult to understand why they would be stopped from engaging in public debate or communicating with the media. But a new precedent has been set by the High…
It’s essential that we get it right when it comes to changing our constitution to recognise Aboriginal Australians. Flickr/Rusty Stewart

Indigenous recognition: we can’t afford to water down constitutional reform

Earlier this year, the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians gave its final recommendations to the government. Recognition would acknowledge the unique place of Aboriginal…
We should take a closer look at the history of the Constitution before reforming it. Flickr/Rusty Stewart

Indigenous recognition and the Section 25 quandary

The one recommendation of the Expert Panel on Indigenous Constitutional Recognition that everyone appears to support is the repeal of section 25 of the Constitution. Section 25 says that if a State law…
A lack of empirical data is hindering indigenous policymaking in the Northern Territory. AAP

What’s data got to do with it? Reassessing the NT intervention

Since its introduction in 2007, there has been much debate over the effectiveness of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) in improving the quality of life in remote indigenous communities…
Many Aboriginal people, like boxer Anthony Mundine, look to Islam as a way of re-connecting with their roots. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Long history with Islam gives Indigenous Australians pride

Muslim conversion is growing in Indigenous communities. In the 2001 national census, 641 Indigenous people identified as Muslim. By the 2006 census the number had climbed by more than 60% to 1014 people…
The government is ignoring protests against income management, and evidence it doesn’t work. AAP/Larine Statham

Government ignores evidence of policy failure on Aboriginal issues

The government is ignoring evidence that income management in Aboriginal communities isn’t working. Despite a raft of studies showing it isn’t changing behaviour or significantly improving people’s life…
Indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin must ensure policy reflect cultural differences.

Blaming individuals will get indigenous employment policy nowhere

The Gillard Government’s new discussion paper on indigenous welfare policy in the Northern Territory continues Labor’s rhetorical reliance on a loosely defined concept of the “dignity of work”. Federal…
Achieving equity is less about grand gestures than meeting the actual needs of Indigenous Australians. Sorry by butupa/Flickr

Playing number games with Indigenous Australians' health

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released its latest report on how much money the Commonwealth and State governments spend on the health of Indigenous Australians. Despite being…
Mining companies are finally sharing the benefits with the native owners of the land. AFP/Christian Sprogoe/Rio Tinto

The Boom: Native owners or mining companies: who benefits?

Aboriginal Australians living in remote areas have, for the past five decades, experienced at close quarters the ill-effects of large scale mining, while receiving few of the benefits. From Cape York…
Indigenous Australians find great difficulty in gaining official tribal recognition. AAP

Recognition of Indigenous Australians – what does it mean?

Indigenous difference has been “recognised” in the public law and policy of the western settler states of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States since the earliest days of colonial government…
Australia has the world’s oldest continuously worked mine site. AAP

The Australian history we don’t know

There has been a massive revival of interest in Australian history in the last decade. Under Prime Minister John Howard, Australia’s military history, particularly the ANZACs, became little short of a…

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