Serious Whitefella Stuff
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When solutions became the problem in Indigenous affairs
With individual chapters by Alyson Wright and Paul Memmott.
How does Indigenous policy signed off in Canberra work—or not—when implemented in remote Aboriginal communities? Mark Moran, Alyson Wright and Paul Memmott have extensive on-the-ground experience in this area of ongoing challenge. What, they ask, is the right balance between respecting local traditions and making significant improvement in the areas of alcohol consumption, home ownership and revitalising cultural practices?
Moran, Wright and Memmott have spent years dealing with these pressing issues. Serious Whitefella Stuff tells their side of this complex Australian story.
About the author
Professor Mark Moran leads the Development Effectiveness group at the Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland. His career spans academia, not-for-profit organisations, government and consultancy work. Mark has a unique background of technical and social science research with a degree in civil engineering and a PhD in human geography and planning. He has worked in Indigenous communities in Australia, USA and Canada, and in developing communities in Lesotho, China, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and Bolivia. He was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship in 1997 and The University of Queensland Dean's Commendation for Outstanding Research Higher Degree Thesis in 2006. His writing has appeared in The Australian and Griffith Review.
Every morning across the Australian outback, people rise to the daily business of running Indigenous communities. As these community leaders and frontline workers attend to their daily activities and each other—what we call the practice of Indigenous affairs—they operate in a highly complex and politicised field. They are widely positioned as community leaders, employees and volunteers working for Indigenous and other local organisations. They include locally stationed or visiting staff from an array of government departments, private corporations and non-government organisations.
Locally, Indigenous people commonly refer to this ‘busyness’ as ‘whitefella stuff’. Although Indigenous people remain closely intertwined—as leaders of Indigenous organisations, employees of service providers, and recipients of government-funded services and benefits—they generally see this busyness as not theirs, separate from their private domain of community life and culture. People living in one remote community described this whitefella stuff by making a simple abstraction to the weather: impossible to control, but not entirely unpredictable. You ‘make hay while the sun shines’, ‘bunker down’ for the storms, take spoils when you can, minimise your losses, and be ever alert for the next policy wind to blow.
– MARK MORAN in Serious Whitefella Stuff