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The more things change... The origins and impact of Australian Indigenous economic exclusion

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Product Description

By Rae Norris

Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-921214-79-0
Pages: 212
Imprint: Post Pressed


Rae Norris holds Bachelor and Masters degrees in History and Sociology and has published widely on employment equity issues. She was awarded a PhD at Griffith University in 2006 and the inaugural Griffith University Chancellor's Medal for excellence in PhD research in 2007. She was chosen as a delegate to the 2020 Summit held in Canberra in April 2009 in the Indigenous Stream on the basis of her research into the foundations of Indigenous employment disadvantage. She is an Adjunct Research Fellow with the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: If the Truth Be Known

  • Introduction
  • Structure of the Book

Chapter 2: Aboriginal Arrangements

  • Introduction
  • The Indigenous Economy
    • Interconnectedness
    • Land and resource management
    • Production and exchange
  • Indigenous Social Arrangements
    • Religion
    • Education
    • Government
    • Law
    • Other Cultural Matters
  • Conclusion

Chapter 3: The Colonial Economy: Antecedents, Establishment, Effects

  • Introduction
  • Imperialism: An Economic Imperative
    • Colonisation
    • Britain in the Late Eighteenth Century
    • The Decision to Colonise
    • Form of Colonisation
  • Establishing the Colonial Economy
    • Developing Industries
    • Early Employment Relations
    • Sources of Labour
  • Extent of Indigenous Incorporation
  • Conclusion

Chapter 4: British Baggage: Beliefs about Blacks to 1850

  • Introduction
  • 'Black' and Blacks in History
  • Role of Religion
  • From Chain of Being to Evolution to 'Race'
  • Colonialism
  • Blacks in the Economy
  • Labour
  • Blacks and Work
  • Conclusion

Chapter 5: Conflict of Cultures 1788 to 1850

  • Introduction
  • Colonial Views of Aborigines
    • Judgments about Aborigines
    • Aboriginal Capacity: Intelligence, Indolence
    • Civilizing Aborigines
    • Christianizing Aborigines
    • 'Doomed Race' Theory
  • Re-socialisation for Work?
    • 'Civilisation' by Capture
    • Educational Efforts
    • The 'Aboriginal Problem' and its Solution
  • Aboriginal Reactions
  • Conclusion

Chapter 6: Empty Promises

  • Introduction
  • The Development of Victorian Aboriginal Policy
  • The Policy in Practice
  • Policy Becomes Law
  • Coranderrk Under the Law
  • Conclusion

Chapter 7: Codifying Contempt, Institutionalising Ignorance 1897 to 1967

  • Introduction
  • Overview of Colonial Law
  • Main Features of Race and Employment Law
    • Race Law
    • Employment Law
  • Law Affecting Indigenous Employment 1897-1967
  • Definitions of Aboriginality
    • Reserves
    • Employment and Wages
  • 1965 Northern Territory Cattle Industry Equal Pay Case
  • Conclusion

Chapter 8: None So Blind

  • Introduction
  • The Story So Far
  • Aboriginal Economic Disadvantage: Extent and Explanations
  • Will We Ever Learn?

Appendix 1: Attitudes to Aborigines 1788-1850




This work will provide an insight into our current understandings of the low levels of participation of Aboriginal people in the workforce and will assist in better identification of key factors of concern. One of its great contributions in is the articulation of racist ideology that has operated in this area but has gone unmentioned and unnoticed. In identifying this as a key factor, the [book] will assist in developing policies and strategies that more clearly target the structural and philosophical elements that have been identified in the careful and informative research at the heart of the [book]. It makes an important and meaningful contribution to debates on Indigenous employment and engagement in the economy (or lack thereof).

Professor Larissa Behrendt, Professor of Law and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney

Rae Norris's important new study shows how the combination of legislative barriers and racist attitudes served to exclude Indigenous Australians from employment in the past and to nullify their persistent efforts to take advantage of economic opportunities generated by white settlement. Discriminatory legislation has been repealed, but as Norris shows all too clearly, institutionalised racism and beliefs regarding the inability or disinterest of Indigenous Australians in gaining employment persist. Only when these underlying issues are addressed can Indigenous economic disadvantage be overcome.

Professor Ciaran O'Fairchellaigh, Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Griffith University

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