Contemporary Indigenous Studies

Discuss about the Contemporary Indigenous Studies.

This essay will critically evaluate the benefits and costs of the self-determination as well as its outcomes for the Australian Indigenous population or Aboriginal people at the time duration of early 1970s. This essay will also emphasize the importance of the self-determination for the Aboriginal people by evaluating its necessity for the contemporary indigenous studies.


Self-Determination is a term used in the Australian indigenous studies for the Australian aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people that usethe power into their own hands and take ultimate decisions of their own selves. RCIADIC defines the self-determination as an act of gaining ultimate power to take decision by the Aboriginal people of Australia ownselves or having whole control on the decision making process. The self-determination is not what the Australian government gives something to the Aboriginal people rather it’s just something taken by these people(Anderson, 2013). It includes the substantial transfer of the decision-making power and authority from the Australian government to the indigenous people, such as Aboriginal people.It examines the ability of the Australian indigenous people (Aboriginal people) to make decisions themselves by using the available resources and funding.

The Aboriginal self-determination came into existence in 1972 when the white Australian policy was abolished by the Whitlam Government and started self-determination policy. The early 1970s was a period of the dominant trope for the indigenous Australians especially Aboriginal people.According to the report of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Aboriginal people were numbered 669, 881, almost 3% of total Australian population in 2011. The self-determination was a significant policy shift from the previous conservative government policies. Under the governance of Gough Whitlam, the Australian government made some efforts to address the rising calls for the recognition of the Australian Aboriginal citizenship rights and examine the ability of the Australian indigenous people to determine their own lives, lifestyles, social and economic development and educational opportunities. In the early 1970s, the self-determinant seemed to be a contestable and heavily loaded political term(Bellar, 2013). The self-determination policy for the indigenous people was based on the non-liberal interpretation of the economic self-sufficiency. It provided the high level of autonomy and independence to the indigenous people without no longer dependent on the government legal policies and norms.

The self-determination is important or beneficial from the point of view of the Australian indigenous people or Aboriginal people because it provided the self-governance power and land rights to the Australian indigenous people or Aboriginal people. The self-determination empowered the Australian Aboriginal people by providing them the basic rights to make policies, right to control the decision-making process and ultimate power or authority to implement those decisions. The self-determination was also beneficial for the Australian Aboriginal people because it provided an important framework for these people to make sustainable improvements in the economic, social, and environmental conditions of the first inhabitant people of Australia. It also supported in the economic and social development of the Aboriginal people(Barrera-Hernandez, Barton, Godden and Ronne, 2016). The self-determination principles assisted the multicultural continent to deliver the postcolonial justice to the Australian indigenous or Aboriginal people.

The self-determination policies and principles assisted to promise a new deal for the Aboriginal people and their families and communities to live their lives with freedom by utilizing available resources and incorporating the traditional cultural practices. The self-determination enabled the Aboriginal people to have administration on the payment system through settlement, pastoral intermediaries and mission. It changed the mindsets of the indigenous people to prefer the aboriginal services to mainstream services. It also provided the citizen rights to the Australian indigenous or Aboriginal people by ensuring that they have first citizenship of the Australian country and wouldn’t be treated separately from others. The Aboriginal Land rights act was passed in 1976that provided the rights for the Australian Aboriginals to make the land right claims on the traditional land and occupation. The milestones rights, 1990 including the Australian government legislations provided a great deal of autonomy and independence for the Aboriginal people and enhanced their salary wages and welfare benefits.

The self-determination was an increasingly concept in early 1970s that benefited the Australians indigenous people by predominantly enabling them in the areas of self-governance, land rights, citizenship, and sovereignty. The self-determinant empowered the Aboriginal people to enjoy the traditional culture, heritage, and national language(Korff, 2016). This concept provided the rights to the Australians indigenous people to live and work independently, right to use the natural sources, water, land, seas, and rivers, rights to be economically and socially efficient, right to be educated, right to control decision-making process and power to implement those decisions that affect their lives, and right to govern and manage their own affairs and relationships.

The principle of the self-determination is the most fundamental principle of the human rights that has been increasingly important for the indigenous people in the colonized countries as it assists to seek to renegotiate the relationships and jurisdiction with the governing states. The self-determination is necessary for the indigenous or Aboriginal people because it provides the collective rights and powers to the Australian Indigenous people rather than the individual rights and powers. It enables the indigenous people to determine their political status independently and pursue the social, economic, and cultural development of the people.The self-determination is important for the indigenous people for the social welfare, economic development, high level of autonomy and sovereignty, self-governance and control over the decision making process. It is imperative for the indigenous people for having greater control of the community affairs(Marks, 2014).

The principles and policies of the self-determinationdid not deliver the good performance outcomes for the Australian indigenous or Aboriginal people as these createdclear differences between the indigenous people and non-indigenous people. The indigenous people usually experienced lower standards of health, lower educational level, lower employment level, lower housing standards and over representation of the criminal justice system. It also caused for the partial destruction of the Aboriginal culture, heritage, tradition and inequality in the areas of economic development and social life. The death rate for the aboriginal or indigenous people was counted more than the non-indigenous people as the death rate of the indigenous people of age group of 35-54 in the Queensland, Northern and Southern Australia was five times more than the total Australian population(National Library Australia, 2015). The indigenous people were more likely to die from the self-harm, accident, assault, nutritional and metabolic problems.The infant mortality rate for the Australian indigenous people was two times more than all Australian infants.

The self-determination did not provide the better performance results for the Australian indigenous people because it affected their lives in the term of lower educational achievement, low school retention rate, lower income level and employment opportunities, increasing criminal activities, and low housing accommodation rates. The Australian Aboriginal people did not get additional incomeand no extra funding as the Aboriginal people were the most economically and socially disadvantage groups in the Australian Country(Palmer, 2016). The self-determination also caused for more expenditure on health and education for the indigenous people than non-indigenous people. The self-determination also gave rise to the discrimination, cultural suffocation, suppression of democratic participation, and legacies of empire.

The self-determination principles and policies have not also proved advantageous for the Australian Aboriginal people as these policies brought cost to the Australian indigenous people. The Aboriginal people didn’t understand the national culture, traditions, language, and heritage of the Australian country deeply and misused their responsibilities as the self-determination permitted them to either ignore or abandon their responsibilities. The self-determination understood it inappropriate to be involved for them in the social welfare programs of the nation. The Aboriginal health was the major Aboriginal problem. The self-determination badly affected their lifestyles, income level, employment, and economic status. The self-determination caused for the disputes and conflicts among the aboriginal people and clash with the laws and regulations of the state and territory government. Some indigenous people didn’t follow the legal norms and regulations and accused them for involving in the criminal activities(Peterson and Myers, 2016). Some of the Australian Aboriginal people misused their power and rights and involved themselves in the discrimination, political violence, criminal justice, inequality, and economic instability. Some of the Aboriginal people were sent to the jail for the criminal and violence activities. Some of them walked away from their savings, some of them gave away the most possessions and a superannuation account was formed over the two decades. 

The self-determination did not deliver the better outcomes for the Australian Aboriginal people and brought cost to them in the form of educational, economy, infrastructure, healthcare, and colonialism problems. The Australian indigenous people had to face the infrastructural problems as the Aboriginal people struggled for the availability of affordable and safe housing and insufficient infrastructure which adversely affected the ability of the Aboriginal people to seek economic and social development and educational improvement. The self-determination forced the Aboriginals to live on the tribal land or reservations(Smith, 2010). The self-determination also caused for the fewer educational opportunities, lower income level, vulnerable socio-economic status, and disappointing health related outcomes for the Aboriginal people. The life expectancy, infant mortality rates, education, income, and employment related outcomes were not better in comparison to the non-indigenous Australian people.

There has been problematic relationship among the self-determination, self-identification, and the Aboriginal people. The self-determination policies failed to recognize and protect the property rights and economic rights for the Aboriginal people. There were clear evidences of the link between the dysfunction in the Aboriginal communities and government neglect that caused for the failed experience by the Aboriginal people and made shift in a new policy with Howard Government. The self-governance also failed to understand the concepts of self-governance, self-management, and sovereignty. The failure of the self-determination policies has been compounded by the failure of the aboriginal people to understand the cultural dynamics and the imposition of the processes into the indigenous communities(Australian Human Rights commission, 2010). As a result of failure of the self-determination policies and strategies, most of the indigenous people returned to their traditional homelands, while some of the indigenous people in the Northern territory returned to their home states (outstations and homeland centers).

The self-determination policies and principles failed to assist the Aboriginal people to develop capability to manage their own families and communities according to the government requirements. Along with this, the self-determination policies, programs, and structures were imposed without the prior consultation which was inconsistent with the notion of the Aboriginal people influencing their ability to manage their own affairs and relationships with the communities.


From theabove analytical studies and evaluations on the essay, it can be concluded that the self-determination is important for the indigenous people in providing them a great deal of autonomy and independence in the living rights, education, income, accommodation, and use of natural sources. It is imperative for protecting their basic rights and empowers them to take decisions independently. But, the self-determination didn’t succeed for longer because of failure of ability of the Aboriginal people to manage their own lives and affairs with the families and communities. It failed to recognize and secure the rights of the Aboriginal people to claim on the land rights. It also delivered the poor outcomes related to the income, education, employment, infrastructure, health, and living expectancy rates for the indigenous people in comparison to non-indigenous people. 


Anderson, A. (2013). Homelands/outstation policy, Ministerial Statement, NT Legislative Assembly, Darwin. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 7 September 2016).

Australian Human Rights commission (2010). Right to Self Determination. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 8 September 2016).

Barrera-Hernandez, L., Barton, B., Godden, L. and Ronne, A. (2016). Sharing the Costs and Benefits of Energy and Resource Activity: Legal Change and Impact on Communities. London: Oxford University Press.

Bellar, S. (2013).The case for Indigenous self-determination [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 8 September 2016).

Korff, L. (2016). Would a treaty help Aboriginal self-determination? [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 8 September 2016).

Marks, R. (2014). Gathering storm: The assault on self-determination in the West. [Online]. Available at:  (Accessed 7 September 2016).

National Library Australia (2015).APAIS 1994: Australian public affairs information service. Australia: National Library publication.

Palmer, K. (2016).Homelands as outstations of public policy. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 7 September 2016).

Peterson, N. and Myers, F. (2016).Experiments in self-determination: Histories of the outstation movement in Australia. Australia: Anu Press.

Smith, B. (2010).‘Self-determination: Helping Aboriginal families to realize the ideal’,Australian Institute of Family Studies, [Online] Issue 29, Available at: (Accessed: 8 September 2016). is committed to providing best quality homework writing help to all students in UK. With the strength of 3000+ highly qualified experts, we help students complete their due homework assignments perfectly and keep pace with the coursework. We guarantee the homework help solutions that students receive from us are highest in the quality and free from any hint of plagiarism. But students don’t need to think about the prices because our homework writing services are most affordable.

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