5 August 2020

Chelsea Bond on the new Closing the Gap targets: “The failings in Indigenous affairs are not due to Indigenous people making poor choices. Nor is it because we lack data or evidence of what works. It is a result of a sustained indifference to the lives of Indigenous peoples, disguised as benevolence in fictitious claims of policy reform. The issue is the failure — or rather refusal — to commit to structural reform that meaningfully attends to the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the state. Such reform demands recognition of the unique rights of Indigenous peoples, not simply more data on disadvantage and supposed Indigenous deviance. Yet we are now being offered a partnership approach with government-funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. Few have noted the power imbalance at the heart of this relationship. As Roy Ah-See, co-chair Uluru dialogues at UNSW’s Indigenous Law Centre has said, ‘You are never going to bite the hand that feeds you, so how can these organisations be representative if they only received resources from government?’ When we cut through the talk of the new Closing the Gap agreement, it is clear this discourse of ‘change’ works precisely so that everything can stay the same.” (Previously.)