Tia Di Biase
Models of political representation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
This research examines barriers to self-determined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander political representation. Specifically, it identifies distinct and overlapping views toward political representation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians. Self-determination, which includes, political representation that aligns with values, heritage and nationhoods, has been endorsed by Australia as an Indigenous right. Despite this, it is clear that movements toward self-determination have been blocked or dismantled by the Australian Government throughout history. Consequently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders posses the worst formal political representation compared with Aboriginal populations in other settler societies. 435 (379 non-indigenous and 56 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) participants were recruited to complete an online survey about attitudes towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policies and political representation. The results revealed that stereotypical beliefs, and indicators of higher social class influenced resistance for self-determining political representative structures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. However, There was a general trend for both sub-groups of participants to support self-determining structures, albeit non-indigenous participants slightly less. The results contradict government initiatives, which support merely limited consultation. National unity was a primary concern for all participants and must be an aspect that is addressed in future movements and policies toward self-determination. Understanding the discord and parallels between non-indigenous Australian and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander attitudes towards self-determined political representation can help inform strategies to unite Australia. (Supervised by Julie Kimber and Michael Leach).