The Colonial Fantasy: Why white Australia can't solve black problems

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Australia is wreaking devastation on Aboriginal people.

The evidence is incontrovertible. Whatever the policy – from protection to assimilation, self-determination to intervention, reconciliation to recognition – government policies and programs have made little positive difference to the quality of life of the majority of Aboriginal people. In far too many instances, interaction with governments has only made Indigenous lives worse. The successes of a burgeoning Aboriginal middle class cannot obscure this fact.

Despite this, many activists, and analysts – Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike – still believe that working with the state is the only viable political option. This belief has produced a situation of constant churn and reinvention in Aboriginal affairs, as governments of all persuasions battle over the 'right' approach to solving Aboriginal 'problems', secure in their belief that new or better policy is the answer.

The Colonial Fantasy considers why Australia persists in the face of such obvious failure. It argues that white Australia can't solve black problems because white Australia is the problem. Aboriginal policy in Australia has resisted the one thing that Aboriginal people want, and the one thing that has made a difference elsewhere: the ability to control and manage their own lives.

This book argues for a radical restructuring of the relationship between Aboriginal people and governments, seeing the resurgence of Aboriginal nationhood as the only way forward.

About the Author

Sarah Maddison is Professor of Politics at the University of Melbourne, co-director of the Indigenous-Settler Relations Collaboration. She is author of Black Politics and Beyond White Guilt.

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Cite this page

Korff, J 2019, The Colonial Fantasy: Why white Australia can't solve black problems, <>, retrieved 16 June 2024

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