Aboriginal People and Political Representation at the National Level: A Political History of Indigenous Political Representation in the Period 1967 – 1976 in Australia

By:
Dr Heidi Norman
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This paper presents new research on the Barrie Dexter Papers held at the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).

Barrie Dexter was a member of the inaugural Council for Aboriginal Affairs (1967-76), Director of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs, and first head of the newly created Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs (1972-1977). This is a significant periods in the administration of Indigenous Affairs at the Commonwealth level.

The Council, following from recommendations of the then Social Research Council of Australia, sought to investigate: The incorporation of Aboriginal groups within the decision making processes and, assistance with negotiation and transfer of lands to property corporations to be used by Aboriginal communities. (AIATSIS 'MS 4167 Papers of Barrie Dexter' p5).

This paper seeks to understand how the Council and Office of Aboriginal Affairs and later the Department of Aboriginal Affairs sought to 'incorporate' Indigenous people, groups, perspectives into national political decision making processes in the administration of Aboriginal affairs.

It will be argued that this era and the construction of Indigenous 'interests' informed the development of a whole array of institutions and apparatuses through which Indigenous peoples' relationships to the state have been governed. This political history will chart the development of policy and legislation concerning Indigenous demands for representation and consultation, thereby making a significant contribution to policy debates, and understanding more broadly the possibilities and limits of political representation at the national level.


Keywords: Indigenous Australian political history, Governmentality, Political representation
Stream: Political Science, Politics, First Nations and Indigenous Peoples
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr Heidi Norman

Lecturer, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology, Sydney
Australia

Heidi Norman and is currently enrolled in her doctorate where she is employing Foucault's Governmentality literature to understand responses to Indigenous peoples' calls for land rights. In 2004 she was awarded the UTS Vice Chancellors Teaching Award. She is a descendant of the Gamilaroi nation in NSW, Australia.

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