This paper outlines the extent of current Indigenous employment disadvantage in Australia, compares this to the situation that has been evident over the past three decades, critiques the nature of current understanding of the problem and identifies issues which urgently require further research. There is an implicit assumption in much that has been written on this issue that Indigenous disadvantage is in some way attributable to characteristics inherent in Indigenous people rather than to factors outside their control. In fact, current economic disadvantage of Indigenous Australians follows on from almost two hundred years of discriminatory law and practice. This paper explores the nature and extent of the on-going effects of this past unequal treatment, in order to establish the extent of the issues, to identify inadequacies in current attempts to explain this situation and to define the larger research problem which needs to be addressed. It concludes that any explanation based almost exclusively on quantitative data cannot explain the qualitative reasons why such a situation of inequity developed and has been maintained over a long period.
Journal of Economic and Social Policy / Vol. 5, No. 2, pp.1-25