Struggles for social justice and cultural autonomy by indigenous Australians' have constituted some of the most far-reaching challenges to the Australian state, including its welfare and community development practices. In the last twenty years Aborigines have gained official recognition as a people and support for self-management and self-determination policies. These apparent successes have resulted in an incorporation of indigenous communities and their politics into mainstream institutions in ways which can actually increase state supervision and threaten cultural independence. Partly this contradiction arises from the need to create peak bodies able to represent Aboriginal issues at the highest levels of government which run counter to the localised and land-based social networks which have enabled indigenous values to be maintained under welfare colonialism. This paper traces the recent history of these struggles and examines the issues they have created for non-Aboriginal community workers as well as for indigenous communities themselves.
Community Development Journal / Vol. 31, No. 2, pp.114-125