Towards a real social inclusion for indigenous Australians

Dennis Foley, Boyd Hunter

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookOther chapter contributionpeer-review


Indigenous Australians are among of the most disadvantaged people in Australia. The origins of this disadvantage is the processes of social exclusion embodied in colonization and the original act of dispossession. This chapter revisits the 1975 Henderson Report on Australian Poverty and demonstrates that Indigenous poverty has not improved substantially relative to non-Indigenous poverty since the 1970s. The social exclusion literature that emerged since that time emphasizes that income poverty is a relatively static outcomes and policymakers need to understand the multidimensional dynamic processes that evolve and keep "poor people poor." Discrimination plays a crucial role in reinforcing cumulative disadvantage and policy needs to explicitly recognize the role of both conscious and unconscious bias in social exclusion of Indigenous Australians. Henderson's report was an honest attempt to think critically consider the causes of the Indigenous disadvantage, but it was focusing more on social exclusion from the mainstream Australian society rather than asking the more radical question, what is it that Indigenous people are being included in? Any social inclusion agenda must recognize the legitimacy of cultural difference and "decenter" the received norms established by non-Indigenous institutions. This involves explicit recognition of the notion of group or collective Indigenous rights seriously (not just allude to the Mabo High Court decision). This chapter presents some data that illustrates that self-determination, in the form of the ability to live on and access ancestral land, has positive effects on Indigenous health over and above the impacts of the processes of social exclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Social Inclusion
Subtitle of host publicationResearch and Practices in Health and Social Sciences
EditorsPranee Liamputtong
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9783030895945
ISBN (Print)9783030895938
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2022


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