Between places: Indigenous mobility in rural and remote Australia

Between places: Indigenous mobility in rural and remote Australia Report

  • Author(s): Paul Memmott, Stephen Long, Linda Thomson
  • Tertiary Author(s): AHURI Queensland Research Centre, Brisbane
  • Published: 2006
  • Publisher: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute

Abstract: Aboriginal households in Dajarra, Alpurrurulam and Mt Isa, while exceptionally mobile by Australian mainstream standards, are relatively stable in their customary attachment to their home community, local bush country, cultural region, and regional centre. There is a need to balance the local provision of housing and other services to outlying remote and rural communities and to rationalise service provision in regional centres. This research was conducted to understand, in depth, why Indigenous people move, where they move to, how frequently and for how long. The researchers examined the mobility of two Aboriginal settlements: Dajarra in Queensland and Alpurrurualam in Northern Territory. Both movers and the hosts of movers provided quantitative data on the frequency and durations of moves, and qualitative data on the reasons for such moves. The key findings of the research are: More than 40 per cent of visits are to stay with family members and more than a third of the households in each community were hosting visitors at any one point in time. Other important drivers of Aboriginal mobility are sporting events, hunting and collecting bush resources, shopping, and accessing social services. There are strong circular patterns of mobility within a well defined kinship region and to and from a key regional centre. The highest frequency of visits is to a regional centre, with an average of 39 trips per year per visitor. Visits are typically for 2-3 days, very few are longer than one month. These mobility patterns add complexity to Aboriginal housing policy and service delivery with regard to the need to: Respond to both local and regional housing needs. Design houses that cope with fluctuating numbers of residents. Provide services that can respond to fluctuating demand that traverses jurisdictional boundaries.

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Suggested Citation
Paul Memmott, Stephen Long, Linda Thomson, 2006, Between places: Indigenous mobility in rural and remote Australia, Report, viewed 12 August 2022,

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