Breaking the Canberra curtain 


Charles Darwin University (CDU) will make an enormous contribution to a national series which will debate the future directions of Australian Indigenous policy.

The series, Indigenous Public Policy: responses from the ground, will combine opinions of past and present policy makers, such as former Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough, with those of Territorians who deal with the effects of Indigenous policy on a daily basis.

A researcher with CDU’s School for Social and Policy Research and Tiwi child health expert, Dr Gary Robinson, said it was time for Canberra to stop and listen.

“Territorian opinion is routinely ignored when it comes to Indigenous policies coming out of Canberra. This series will provide a forum for Territorian Indigenous policy advocates to breach the wall of indifference,” Dr Robinson said.

Executive Officer of the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance and speaker during the series, Joe Morrison insisted that Indigenous people must be equal partners in the reform agenda.

“The public policy mess that has embroiled Indigenous affairs in the last decade has left a lot of Indigenous people, particularly those in the bush, as spectators while successive governments attempt to reform their dire circumstances,” Mr Morrison said.

“At the same time, the rush to develop the north’s water and mineral assets could further marginalise Indigenous people if a new public policy engagement model is not created to allow Indigenous people a seat at the negotiating table.”

Territorian speakers will include CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory John Paterson; CDU education researcher based in Central Australia Josie Douglas; and CDU gambling researcher Matt Stevens.

Other speakers will include, Social Justice Commissioner of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Tom Calma, and Director of Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research Jon Altman.

Presenters will make policy recommendations in the areas of Indigenous health, education, native title, and gambling. They also will draw lessons from past policy, including the Northern Territory Emergency Response.

The series is co-hosted by CDU and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

Presenters will appear midday (Australian Central Time) most Mondays starting 21 July until 20 October in Darwin, Alice Springs or Canberra. The sessions will be broadcast live to each centre as well as to the University of Notre Dame in Broome.

Information, including times, venues, and abstracts are available at

Contact: Shane Thamm, School for Social and Policy Research, 08 8946 6153