Settler colonial representations of Indigenous disadvantage

Lisa Waller, Kerry Mccallum

    Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    It is widely recognized that the vast wealth of Australia’s First Nations was destroyed through dispossession of their lands. Since then, treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under settler colonialism has been such that, except to a limited extent, it has been quite impossible for Indigenous peoples to achieve socioeconomic equality or justice. Drawing on theories of “settler common sense” that seek to address how the “concrete effects” of settler governance get renewed and recreated, this chapter analyzes how dominant mainstream media representations of Indigenous people in Australia help to perpetuate a cycle of poverty. It presents research that shows governments and journalists regularly report on indicators of Indigenous disadvantage, including mortality and incarceration rates and inadequate health, housing, education and employment. However, they rarely refer directly to poverty or its causes. Instead, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are routinely framed as not part of the “real economy,” viewed through the prism of “welfare dependency” or the “myth of privilege” that they get special economic benefits. Ultimately, the chapter argues that such news representations of poverty as a socially irresponsible choice are a powerful form of colonial control in Indigenous lives.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRoutledge Companion to Media and Poverty
    EditorsSandra Borden
    Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Electronic)9780367260729
    ISBN (Print)9780367260729
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2021


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