In light of the recent contention in Australia around the forced closure of Indigenous Communities, this blog aims to examine representations of indigenous stereotypes and media depiction of indigenous issues and how they relate to the various government policy approaches. It aims to address the systematic racism but also the active attempts to combat this through awareness raising. In collating material for the blog I have been continuously aware of the conflicting ideals around how best to find a solution to the ‘gap’ that exists in socioeconomic status within the country; on the one hand ‘Assimilation’ through integration into the economy and thus wider Australian society by bringing indigenous people into centralised townships, and on the other, ‘Self Determination’ strengthening links between traditional ways of living on the land away from the damaging effects of globalisation. These ideals are reflected in the discussion of government policy on indigenous issues that is central to this blog.
The debate around Indigenous Australians is entrenched in public opinion and attitudes, much of the evidence exists in representations and in how the situation is portrayed. Franklin (1999) argues that the media has a tendency to report or construct social policy issues in a highly critical if not apocalyptic way. Various media portrayals of the relevant social issues regarding indigenous Australians directly or indirectly influence the process of policy making or implementations by having an impact on audiences and policy makers. Certain portrayals are then used as evidence to legitimise policy interventions. By using this blog as a research tool I have captured a variety of portrayals and perspectives within the debate, allowing the different media representations of indigenous people to be viewed critically from an anthropological perspective. I seek to demonstrate how by looking across a broad spectrum of forms of representation of the issues that it is much more complex than any single policy approach would suggest.
The posts make up the ethnographic material and are drawn from online content such as video, photographs, news articles and websites and social media as well as some of my own experience of the division in Australia. With each post I draw on relevant anthropological literature on Indigenous Australians to place the ethnographic content in a theoretical context and make the connections to the policy approaches . It is not necessary to read the blog in any particular order but instead should treated an immersion into the wider portrayal of the sometime hidden experience of indigenous people in the prospering nation of Australia. To get most from the material posted it is necessary to have some knowledge of the wider cultural, historical and political factors. A brief introduction to these is available on the top menu and provides a lens through which to view the ethnographic data of the blog posts.
The title of this blog is the Burrara word ‘Ngorrkorndiya’ meaning to divide self; to be divided, It speaks of a multitude of divisions that exist; economically, socially; between white and indigenous, politically; between the different party policies on tackling the issues; as well as the divide within indigenous themselves and perhaps most crucially to these first Australians, between people and the land.