Aboriginal people ‘talking back’ to policy in rural Australia
How does a geographically remote Australian Aboriginal community ensure that culturally and locally important priorities are recognised in policy? This paper discusses a case study of Indigenous community engagement in policy making, revealing some of the challenges community leaders face and the strategies they implement in their struggle for a strong say and hand in designing appropriate policy responses to local problems.
The case study community is Walgett, a remote New South Wales community with a large Aboriginal population, distinguished in history for its part in the 1965 Freedom Ride which highlighted racial segregation and discrimination across outback Australia. Today Walgett ranks as one of Australia’s most disadvantaged communities (Vinson, 2007), and hence was chosen as one of 29 priority remote Aboriginal communities to be the focus of the Australian Government’s Remote Service Delivery commitment, part of the Closing the Gap agenda.
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