Resource Development and Aborigines: The Case of Roebourne 1960–1980


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The pervasive and dynamic influence of economic restructuring on political and social relations is highlighted in many aspects of Australian daily life. The effect of economic restructuring on already marginalised and disempowered groups in society is often overlooked Development of iron ore mines and associated new towns, railways and ports transformed the regional economy of Western Australia's Pilbara region in the 1960s and 1970s. For Aborigines in Roebourne, this restructuring represented a new phase in their relations with ‘White Australia’. Interacting historical legacies, corporate strategies, government policies and economic processes further marginalised the region's Aboriginal population and linked the region to the global economy in ways which created significant barriers to the development of Aboriginal self‐management strategies. This paper reviews this period with particular emphasis on the social impact of the iron ore ‘boom’ on local Aboriginal people. In the current climate of renewed economic and political crisis in Western Australia, this review provides a timely reminder that such processes occur in a broader context than is often recognised in regional planning processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-169
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Geographical Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


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