Not fit for modern Australian society: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the new arrangements for the administration of Indigenous affairs

Not fit for modern Australian society: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the new arrangements for the administration of Indigenous affairs Report

AIATSIS Research Discussion Paper

  • Author(s): Kerry Arabena
  • Published: 2005
  • Publisher: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies; Native Title Research Unit
  • Volume: AIATSIS Research Publications

Abstract: In the discussions about the Shared Responsibility Agreement (SRA) negotiated with the Mulan community, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma stated that: - It would be unacceptable for Indigenous people to be denied basic citizenship services that all Australians take for granted...any proposals must comply fully with the Racial Discrimination Act and the principle of non-discrimination more generally. Proposals which fail to do so should be rejected outright as morally repugnant and not fit for modern Australian society. Jackie Huggins made an argument to the Senate that there is a need to reflect on, and analyse the new approaches to Indigenous affairs, and our responses to them. Jackie also suggests that: - Change is fine – as long as it makes sense and isn’t change for the sake of it or even worse change for purely political reasons that bear little relevance to the daily lives of my people. The complexities of the new arrangements are difficult to communicate in their entirety, however, we need to consider the impact of the new arrangements because, as the then ATSIC Commissioner Alison Anderson has forewarned us all: - -The potentially destructive impact of the move away from self-determination to mainstreaming will be seen in the immediate future. Our concern is that once again we will be experimented on and that, in another five to ten years’ time, we will be back to discuss what went wrong. This paper then, is one Indigenous woman’s reflection and analysis of the first twelve months in the new arrangements in the administration of Indigenous affairs. This paper is in three sections: Section A outlines the policy evolution and background to the new arrangements in the administration of Indigenous affairs and provides an overview of the arguments expressed by Aboriginal leaders and their inclusion in the new policy framework. In this section I attempt to answer the questions: What are the new arrangements in Indigenous affairs? Are the new arrangements really new? What is the Government’s plan? Section B details the new arrangements and provides an analysis of the primary and secondary client group of the new arrangements, as well as issues pertaining to Indigenous people’s representation and strategic leadership; and a review of emerging inequities by using case studies. In this section I attempt to answer the question: How are the new arrangements effected through policy and actions of Government? Section C explains the potential impact of the new arrangements on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and a way forward. In this section I try to articulate what these arrangements mean for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and provide some strategies to consider for positioning ourselves into the future. I consider the questions: What might the impact of these new arrangements be on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ aspirations for self-determination and how can we respond?

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Suggested Citation
Kerry Arabena, 2005, Not fit for modern Australian society: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the new arrangements for the administration of Indigenous affairs, Volume:AIATSIS Research Publications, Report, viewed 07 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3286.

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