To renovate or rebuild? The challenges of Indigenous representation in the Australian settler state

Co-presented with Sydney Democracy Initiative, the University of Sydney

Associate Professor Sarah Maddison
25 February, 2011

It is perhaps stating the obvious to suggest that settler colonial nations like Australia were not designed to provide political representation for Indigenous populations. It should therefore come as no surprise that efforts to ‘add on’ appropriate representational mechanisms - both inside and outside of settler parliaments - have neither changed the structure of colonial institutions nor satisfied Indigenous needs and political aspirations. This lecture will consider why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples remain discontented with current representational arrangements, and what structural changes, including constitutional reform, may be required for this situation to improve. If efforts at political renovation have proved unsuccessful, might we instead aspire to more fundamental change that will allow us to redesign and rebuild our outdated institutions?

Associate Professor Sarah Maddison

Associate Professor Sarah Maddison is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the Indigenous Policy and Dialogue Research Unit at the University of New South Wales. She has published widely on topics including Australian democracy and participation, social movements and political dissent, the women’s movement and Indigenous political culture, including several books, most recently Black Politics ( 2009). In 2011 Sarah will publish two new books, the monograph Beyond White Guilt and the edited collection Unsettling the Settler State (co-edited with Morgan Brigg, UQ).