Australian Aboriginal Studies: Issue 2, 2013

Dec, 2013
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Australian Aboriginal Studies Journal
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Abstracts for Issue 2, 2013

Indigenous higher education: overcoming barriers to participation in research higher degree programs
Toni Schofield, Rebecca O’Brien and John Gilroy, The University of Sydney

This paper explores barriers to Indigenous people’s participation in research higher degree (RHD) programs, which are critical mechanisms for increasing the presence of Indigenous students, staff and senior decision makers in universities. Indigenous RHD participation has emerged as a critical dimension of social inequity, particularly in relation to Indigenous struggles to be heard in major Australian institutions. It plays a central role in Indigenous Australia’s capacity to voice its concerns and represent its interests in all the major institutions that shape people’s access to economic and social resources. In analysing the obstacles encountered by Indigenous peoples in accessing and completing postgraduate research education, we argue that while Commonwealth Government higher education policy has progressed Indigenous RHD participation, it has simultaneously contributed to consolidating universities as international businesses whose main priority is to compete in an increasingly integrated global knowledge economy in order to survive. The organisational dynamics required of such institutions marginalise the advancement of social goals related to equitable participation, such as Indigenous participation in RHD programs. The paper suggests that, although some universities have begun to include Indigenous academics in management, more thoroughgoing integration of Indigenous Australians at all levels of university organisation is required.

New ways for exploring who knows what in a native title case: a sociological approach
Rebecca O’Brien and Catriona Elder, The University of Sydney

This paper explores native title legal processes. It seeks to build on earlier scholarship that has investigated what goes on in the tribunal encounter; in particular, it examines what makes it so hard for Indigenous claimants to be heard in the courtroom. Making an intervention into this broad debate, we present a new sociology of knowledge model that can be used to read native title legal processes in a slightly different way — one that brings knowledge and legitimacy to the fore. Drawing on Legitimation Code Theory and postcolonial theory (Homi Bhabha, in particular), we establish some of the structural relations that enable or disable the voices of Indigenous peoples being heard in native title cases. Our key case study is the Yorta Yorta native title case and the interpretation of a squatter’s diary, a piece of knowledge that was central to the outcome of the claim.

Conceptual framework for policy and research development with Indigenous people with disabilities
John Gilroy, The University of Sydney; Michelle Donelly, Southern Cross University; Susan Colmar and Trevor Parmenter, The University of Sydney

There is currently no explicitly Indigenous conceptual framework to advance research and policy development in a way that assists Indigenous people with disabilities. This paper proposes a conceptual framework that brings together the strengths of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health and Indigenous Standpoint Theory for research and policy development regarding Indigenous people with disabilities. This framework provides six criteria that bridge the cultural interface between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, while emancipating Indigenous people with disabilities in the research and policy development process in Australian disability and Indigenous affairs.

Policy influences affecting the food practices of Indigenous Australians since colonisation
Tarunna Sebastian, University of Technology, Sydney and Michelle Donelly, Southern Cross University

Aboriginal Australians face a range of health challenges that can be linked to dietary factors. Diet-related illness, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and renal disease, is more prevalent among Aboriginal people. This paper examines factors affecting the food practices of Aboriginal Australians since colonisation and contrasts these with the sustainable food practices of Aboriginal people prior to permanent European occupation. Significant shifts in policy and other factors affecting food and eating practices in Australia have occurred over the past 200 years. Influential overlapping historical epochs including the pre-colonial, colonial, protection and assimilation periods have been identified, as has the influence of the industrialisation of food production. The literature review draws on historical sources and policies that highlight the impact of the changing food identities of Aboriginal people that affect diet-related illness. The paper concludes with some implications for food and nutrition policies. Evidence drawn from these findings indicates that further progress is required to inform the development of culturally appropriate food policies to address the diet-related health issues of Aboriginal people.

Proper mixed-up: miscegenation among Aboriginal Australians
Cindy Solonec, The University of Western Australia

Early in Australia’s history, legislation was passed in most states to deal specifically with an ‘Aboriginal problem’. The perceived ‘problem’ involved Aboriginals, Asians and white people producing offspring that interfered with official aspirations for a ‘pure’ white British race. In Western Australia from 1915 to 1940 the Chief Protector of Aborigines was AO Neville, who had become fixated with the idea of eugenics. Neville played a significant role by endorsing the misguided belief that Australia should be made up of ‘white’ citizens, by deciding who Aboriginal people under his control could marry. His folly eventually dissipated and, following the Second World War, authorities moved away from the notion of ‘biological’ assimilation to one of ‘cultural assimilation’. Mixed-descent families became the bane of such ambitious ideologies and Aboriginal Australians and migrants evolved as a significant part of Australian society. 

This paper is written from an Aboriginal perspective, and snippets from the lives of the author’s Rodriguez and Fraser families in the Derby region place the times in context. To explain the local history, this paper draws on Indigenous Standpoint Theory, which can be described as a paradigm in which commonalities of the underprivileged are analysed. It provides a viewing platform from which this story exposes everyday life of marginalised people by investigating the reality of the Fraser clan and its mixed marriages in Western Australia. The paper considers the assimilationism, miscegenation and developmentalism that were played out during the middle of the last century.

Cultural heritage management, ethics and rock art in Western Australia (research report)
Robert G Bednarik

This report presents a critique of established cultural heritage practices in Western Australia, focusing on the control of the process by corporate proponents and its effects on rock art and stone arrangements. The moderating roles of scholarly societies in questions of ethics are reviewed, and the report concludes with a constructive proposal to end practices that have facilitated large-scale destruction of cultural heritage sites.

Journal title: 
Australian Aboriginal Studies

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