Whose place? Lessons from a case study of a guardianship determination for an Australian Indigenous child

Whose place? Lessons from a case study of a guardianship determination for an Australian Indigenous child Journal Article

Health & Place

  • Author(s): McGaw, Janet, Vance, Alasdair, White, Selena, Mongta, Sharon
  • Published: 2022
  • Volume: 73
  • ISBN: 1353-8292

Abstract: Whose values matter when considering which environment is healthier for a child whose guardianship is contested? The biological mother from a remote Australian Aboriginal community, who voluntarily relinquished her but has now requested her return? The foster mother who has cared for her in a metropolitan centre in another State of Australia, thousands of kilometres away? The welfare professionals who also live in that city? Or the child herself, who left her birth home and community five years earlier at the age of two? Drawing on a case study of a seven-year old Aboriginal girl, the authors argue that non-Indigenous values trumped Indigenous values without the realisation of key players who were empowered to make such determinations. The article uses Manuel DeLanda's neo-assemblage theory to consider the range of processes that exert themselves to shape place-values and social identity in colonised nations. It will also draw on Erik Erikson's and Lev Vygotsky's theories of psychosocial development to consider competing sets of values that raised feelings of dissonance within the child. Beliefs about what makes a place health-giving are revealed to be complex in colonised nations. Despite policy and legislative changes to better support Aboriginal people and their right to difference, non-Indigenous professionals can continue to be driven by an unrecognised systemic racism. While place-values are not, of course, the only (or perhaps even the most significant) consideration in guardianship determinations, this article will argue they can play a significant and covert role.

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Suggested Citation
McGaw, Janet, Vance, Alasdair, White, Selena, Mongta, Sharon, 2022, Whose place? Lessons from a case study of a guardianship determination for an Australian Indigenous child, Volume:73, Journal Article, viewed 15 June 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=28278.

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