Indigenous Policy Strategy Review

Indigenous Policy Strategy Review

Essay 1 – Assessment 2 – a policy strategy review of two readings. For this assessment, you will reflect critically on the policy strategies in the readings by Sutton (2001) and Mulgan (1998).
1. Discuss the main points made by Sutton (2001) about what went wrong with the policy era of self-determination, and what is needed for better policy outcomes in Indigenous affairs.
2. Discuss Mulgan’s (1998) main arguments about why reconciliation has not been achieved, and what is required for a more reconciled national body.
3. Finally, present your own perspectives on how to overcome some of the challenges Sutton (2001) and Mulgan (1998) discuss in their texts.

A Review of Articles of Indigenous Policy Principles and Practice

In his article, Sutton questions why, after 30 years of liberal thinking, the grief and suffering in several Aboriginal communities has increased. The picture that Peter Sutton presents is painful as he gives shocking revelations against past failures and argues that the 30 years of liberal thinking on Aboriginal issues have failed. The argument of Sutton in his article emphasizes the social justice projects and land rights as the solution for various problems facing the Aboriginal communities. He argues that the right to live a free life with safety guaranteed and the access to standard healthcare of the Aboriginal people has been taken for guaranteed by the broader community. Sutton says that he has seen aboriginal communities fall into the rising levels of sexual violence, abject poverty and ill-health; paradoxically they have been given rising levels of land ownership and autonomy. For instance, in his article, he uses historical data to show that the levels of murder in several communities have significantly increased and the reasons for this are complex and not as previously thought (Sutton, 2001).

Sutton, in his article, also argues that the policy era or period of self-determination is considerably to blame for the mess in which the Aboriginal people find themselves in. However, in giving his argument concerning flawed policy, he also means that policymakers should confront as well as modify their thinking and not to attribute their mess elsewhere. He proposes that the Aboriginal people should find or discover new ways of confronting and managing the various challenges that they are facing.  In the view of Sutton, the progressive politics coming from the indigenous rights movement or group dulled the instincts of the supporters about the purity of the Aboriginal people’s right. And he wants to see change or shift in the indigenous culture and the complex policy regime. For effective governance, all the Australian people need to accept the existing different cultural perspectives (Price & Rogers, 2019, p. 198). However, to accommodate and moderate them through a collective commitment to various political values.

While on the other hand, Mulgan, in his article, argues that reconciliation of the Aboriginal communities has not been attained, there has been a change in values in the indigenous communities. He sees the non-indigenous and indigenous people as now experiencing the truth that their political community depends on the unfair colonial defeat and therefore, being viewed as unlawful (Mulgan, 1998). ¬†For instance, in the article, he asks rhetorically that ‚ÄúCan this conflict be resolved? (Mulgan, 1998, p. 80) Can indigenous and non-indigenous people come to share common citizenship that both groups recognize as legitimate? Or are societies such as ours condemned to harbour a continuing legacy of unjust dispossession and illegitimacy in their constitution?‚ÄĚ According to Mulgan, these questions are critical to the reconciliation process of the government. He argues that there is a connection between the past dispossession of the indigenous people and their current disadvantage. ¬†He says that accepting this connection can as well imply that the non-Aboriginal societies and their culture should accept the responsibility for the present Aboriginal dispossession.

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Further, he argues that the guilt acceptance is not something that many non-indigenous persons feel comfortable; however, there are few people whom he calls as ‚Äúmoralizing liberals‚ÄĚ who view it as their own superiority (Altman & Smith, 2018, p. 123). The emphasis on the current behaviour of the government as the source of the legitimacy shows that there is the likelihood, if not for collapsing the reconciliation process. Mulgan proposes that there is a need to identify some specific rights of the indigenous people, such as self-determination, general citizenship rights and restricted rights to the land. ¬†On the issue of indigenous people having the right to the compensation of the historical injustices, Mulgan proposes that these rights can be vindicated not because the present generation of the non-Aboriginal people is answerable for this unfairness, but entirely because it get benefits or advantages from them.

In addition, in the article, Mulgan recognizes the conflict existing between the non-indigenous and indigenous attitudes to the past colonial era. He proposes that the hope of finding true reconciliation between the non-indigenous and indigenous people might be over-optimistic. For non-indigenous and indigenous people to share the same citizenship, they will require shared values. However, these cannot be anticipated to involve common opinion on the colonial settlement. For instance, in the article, he says ‚ÄúJust as the ideology of benevolent colonialism and assimilation failed the Aboriginal people so, too, will the ideology of anti-colonialism and colonial guilt fail the non-Aboriginal people. A more sensible, if the less tidy path is to admit the continuing existence of some conflicting cultural perspectives but to moderate and accommodate them through a shared commitment to certain political values, such as democratic principles and human rights, including Aboriginal rights.‚ÄĚ For a more reconciled National body, there must be strategic engagement that identifies the Aboriginal individuals are placed in an intercultural field that is constantly changing, however also identifies that this arrangement is not permanent, but it is controlled by various factors that include individual choice and proclivity (Short, 2016, p. 176).

According to the articles by Peter Sutton and Richard Mulgan, it is clear that Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people’s colonial history is well known for violence, racism, and devastating land dispossession. However, over the last three decades, significant steps of ensuring reconciliation process have been employed, but there are still unacceptable disparities. However, the Australian society comprises of two ethnic-cultural customs, and therefore this unavoidably leads to conflicting attitudes of the colonial history. The distinctive practices and values of the indigenous and non-indigenous people should be accepted as the central component in institutional design that enables effective governance. It is my opinion that establishing the capacity of strategically engaging with cultural, social, political and economic dimensions of the Australian community, is important in solving the severe deprivation and marginalization of the indigenous people. All the Australians should know and accept the historical injustices on Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal peoples and make amends for the failures of the past practices and policies. In addition, they should value and understand the rights, cultures and experiences of the indigenous and non-indigenous people as this will lead to strong relationships anchored on respect and trust. Emphasis must be put on developing a strong relationship between institutions and their constituents or clients rather than attempting to reflect on the traditional practice in the corporate governance mechanism and formal institutional formation.  The current policy expression of governance should openly draw its practices and principles from various sources and not just within the autonomous indigenous field.


Altman, J. and Smith, D.E., 2018.¬†Compensating indigenous Australian ‚Äė losers‚Äô: a community-oriented approach from the Aboriginal social policy arena. Canberra, ACT: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), The Australian National University.

McCallum, K. and Waller, L., 2017. The dynamics of news and Indigenous policy in Australia. Intellect Books.

Mulgan, R., 1998. Citizenship and Legitimacy in Post-colonial Australia. In: N. Peterson, ed. Citizenship and Indigenous Australians: Changing Conceptions and Possibilities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 179-195.

Price, K. and Rogers, J. eds., 2019. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. Cambridge University Press.

Roach, L.M. and Bek, H.J., 2018. Indigenous Australians in the Economy: Abstracts of Research, 1993-94. Canberra, ACT: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research(CAEPR), The Australian National University.

Rowse, T., 2016. experiments in Self-determination: Histories of the Outstation movement in Australia.

Short, D., 2016. Reconciliation and colonial power: indigenous rights in Australia. Routledge. Spencer, R., Brueckner, M., Wise, G. and Marika, B., 2016. Australian indigenous social enterprise: measuring performance. Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and     Places in the Global Economy.

Sutton, P., 2001. The politics of suffering: Indigenous policy in Australia since the 1970s. Anthropological Forum, 11(2), pp. 125-174.

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