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Analysis and Comment (29)

Bundilla elder Aunty Barbara Raymond with schoolchildren in Darwin last year, supporting the cause of Indigenous constitutional recognition. AAP Image/Supplied by Richard Oppusunggu

Explainer: what Indigenous constitutional recognition means

Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australia has been on the national agenda for a long time, but is back in the headlines with the news that the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader hope to release…
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott with kindergarden kids at Yirrkala in the Northern Territory. Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in the NT have the nation’s lowest retention rate, so it’s time to try more creative ways to fix that. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Keeping Indigenous teens in school by reinventing the lessons

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North-East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
Noel Pearson has long had the ear of government, including then minister Tony Abbott back in 2002. AAP/Alan Porritt

Pearson’s grip on Indigenous policy is not backed by evidence

Noel Pearson is seen by many as Australia’s most influential Indigenous leader. As well as being chairman of the Cape York Group, he is an outspoken commentator who shapes policy as part of the Abbott…
Fred Chaney and Adam Goodes have teamed up to push for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians, but it’s proving to be a long road. AAP/Newzulu/Hugh Peterswald

Constitutional recognition alive, but it’s still no ‘barbecue stopper’

Australia has taken another step towards constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait…
The Apology of 2008 demonstrated how symbolic actions have powerful practical consequences for reconciliation. AAP/Julian Smith

Indigenous recognition in our highest law is the right thing to do

Later this year, we expect to see draft recommendations from a parliamentary committee on recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian constitution and ensuring there is…
Bess Price (centre) has long campaigned against violence in Aboriginal communities, saying this is ‘a conversation we must have’. AAP/Richard Oppusunggu

NAIDOC Week: a time to be proud and celebrate, but also to reflect

Within Aboriginal Australia there is currently much to celebrate. We have several prominent Aboriginal politicians, an Australian of the Year who is Aboriginal (Adam Goodes), people employed in prestigious…
For a while, it was possible that Tony Abbott would be a transformative leader on Indigenous policy, but he has thus far not lived up to that promise. AAP/Alan Porritt

Abbott is quietly failing on his ‘PM for Aboriginal affairs’ promise

Despite prime minister Tony Abbott’s apparent passion for Indigenous affairs, last week’s federal budget – his government’s first – shows he has followed a well-trodden political path. This path leads…
The media should focus more on positive models of change and commitment in Aboriginal communities. Rusty Stewart

Bad news: negative Indigenous health coverage reinforces stigma

Think of Aboriginal health and you’ll probably recall messages of large gaps in life expectancy, increasing rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease and asthma. Or that the last ten years…
The abundant evidence of what works shows the way to help Indigenous Australians build a better future. If only politicians and bureaucrats would heed the findings. AAP/Dan Peled

Closing the Gap: we know what works, so why don’t we do it?

The disappointing data that regularly appears in Closing the Gap reports should raise serious questions about policy development and funding processes. The assumption of media stories and many politicians…
Closing the gap in statistical disadvantage is now the dominant way of framing the relationship between Indigenous and settler Australia, But is it the right way? AAP/Marianna Massey

Indigenous affairs: close the gap, but open the conversation

The sixth annual Closing the Gap statement, delivered to federal parliament earlier this week, had the same message as previous years. There is some progress, some regress and more work needed to achieve…
It is easy – and inaccurate – to suggest that Aboriginal gambling is just one more problem associated with remote Indigenous communities that needs to be fixed. Martin Young

Aboriginal gambling: a question of addiction or resource redistribution?

“Aboriginal gambling” has become something of a hot-button issue in recent years. A number of academic research articles have documented the “risk factors” for Aboriginal people that increase their likelihood…
Very little is known about the impact of gambling in regional and remote places in Australia, such as Alice Springs. Bruce Doran

A big deal? The far-reaching impacts of a remote casino

Although Australia is often portrayed as a nation of gamblers, we still know relatively little about the extent to which gambling affects our society. One blind spot in our knowledge is the impact of gambling…
People living in the remote communities face system failures in health care, disability services, housing and infrastructure. Flickr/publik

Why Indigenous Australians need a properly funded NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) presents an overwhelming opportunity to revolutionise the care and support given to Indigenous people. But the equity of the scheme is already at risk, with…
We should acknowledge that the mainstream system of education doesn’t always know what is best for Aboriginal people. AAP/Neda Vanovac

Punishing truancy is not the answer in Indigenous communities

Indigenous education has been prioritised by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the states at the recent COAG meeting. The focus is on truancy, with a school attendance target of 90-100%. “Punitive” measures…
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…
The High Court has found that Indigenous disadvantage needs to be taken into account during sentencing. AAP Image/Marianna Massey

High Court to give ‘full weight’ to Indigenous disadvantage

How long should a criminal’s past history and background remain relevant in a court of law? That was the question before the High Court earlier this week in the case of William Bugmy. Bugmy, a 29 year-old…
Tony Abbott has promised to be a ‘prime minister for Indigenous affairs’. But what this actually means in terms of policy remains thus far unclear. AAP/Alan Porritt

Will Tony Abbott be a ‘prime minister for Aboriginal affairs’?

Recently, Australian Indigenous policy has been characterised by an unambitious bipartisanship. After one too many dramatic and unsuccessful initiatives, there is a sense of lowered expectations. New prime…
Neither party should lose sight of Indigenous issues ahead of the federal election. AAP

Explainer: Indigenous policy and the 2013 federal election

With the federal election in our sights, we are reminded of the long journey ahead in addressing past wrongs and present challenges for Australia’s Indigenous peoples. Historically, the similarities outweigh…
Electorally, we are assumed to live in an economy, not a society which protects its most vulnerable members. Flickr/Viewminder

Election 2013 Issues: Australians, one and all?

Welcome to the The Conversation’s Election 2013 State of the Nation essays. These articles by leading experts in their field provide an in-depth look at the key policy challenges affecting Australia as…
The High Court has ruled in favour of extending native title rights to a 44,000 square kilometre area of the Torres Strait Sea - the largest sea claim in Australian history. AAP/Jordan Baker

Native title rights, regulations and licences: the Torres Strait Sea Claim

It may have been 21 years since the landmark Mabo judgment recognised native title in Australia for the first time, but historic legal native title decisions are still taking place. The High Court of Australia…
The Stolen Generation apology represented a highwater mark for Indigenous policy, but silence has settled on this policy area. AAP

After a decade of new dawns, Indigenous policy vision burns out

Five years ago, prime minister Kevin Rudd took to the nation’s driving seat with the historic Stolen Generation apology. With the theme of this year’s NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance…
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…
The government can’t wait any longer, it needs to make changes now to improve Indigenous education. Aboriginal Art image www.shutterstock.com

Can Indigenous education afford to wait for a real response to Gonski?

In all the discussion, media releases, press conferences and TV coverage of this week’s government response to the Gonski review, it was fascinating that the issue of Indigenous education rated such little…
Beware the hyperbole: Campbell Newman has vowed to axe the Wild Rivers legislation, but what’s the reality beneath the rhetoric? AAP/Alan Porritt

Overturn, axe and bury: the LNP and Queensland’s Wild Rivers Act

Those who follow the Wild Rivers debates in Queensland probably know better than to trust the headlines. When, in January 2010, Tony Abbott announced a federal intervention into the state’s environmental…
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…
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…
It’s time to give people a hand up through welfare. Flickr/sidkid

How to get welfare to actually work

As a senior public servant I became increasingly frustrated that too many government initiatives, always well meant and often well implemented, simply ended up compounding the problem of passivity and…

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