Recolonising an ethics of life: repositioning Indigeneity in Australian 'gap talk'

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    Soon after it came to power in 2008, the Australian Government adopted six key targets relating to life expectancy, infant mortality, education and employment in its policy 'Closing the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage'. As it became apparent in 2011 that these targets were not being met, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in her annual report to Parliament on Closing the gap called upon Indigenous people to change their behaviour so that they could attain a position of equality with white Australians. In doing so, this call to reverse the historical inequalities that have traditionally produced poor outcomes in Indigenous health, education, housing and employment can be interpreted in two ways. Firstly, the government wants Indigenous people to become part of the mainstream of the Australian community with mainstream aspirations and desires. This can be read as a reaffirmation of twentieth century assimilation policy, which was reinstituted by the previous Howard Government. But, more than a mere return to the policy of assimilation, the government's call for Indigenous people to change their behaviour can also be interpreted as an intervention into the very being of Indigeneity. This paper will endeavour to demonstrate how the Australian Government is seeking to recolonise an ethics of life for Indigenous people.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)25-36
    Number of pages12
    JournalThe International journal on school disaffection
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Indigeneity
    • policy
    • education
    • ethics
    • self

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