Indigenous unemployment in rural and regional Western Australia: Is there a way out?

Reena Tiwari, Stephanie Harris, José Van den Akker

Abstract


Historically, Australian policy makers have associated rural Indigenous community’s high un-employment levels and low labour force participation rates with poor livelihood outcomes. This is primarily a result of a ‘one size fits all’approach where labour market outcomes are seen not within their geographical and cultural contexts (Biddle, 2017; Altman et al, 2007), and where the indigenous unemployment issues are often seen through a western lens (Lawrence, 2005). This paper develops further on these ideas to propose that the patterns of Indigenous unemployment must be considered within a complex and colonising system. These patterns need to be recognised, admitted to, and amended in partnership with the local communities taking into account the specific geographical and cultural concerns. Sustainable livelihood solutions must be sought to address economic development in remote Indigenous communities, and this would require challenging the value perspectives informing government policy. Transformation must come from within the local communities and governments need to change how they conceptualise Indigenous peoples’ ‘issues’. Otherwise, colonising and disempowering processes will continue to be reinforced. The researchers explore the ideas through fieldwork in Wakathuni, a remote Aboriginal community settlement located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

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References


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