There are many points of critique to current federal policies in relation to Indigenous people in Australia. I want to draw out one point: the renewed ascendancy of a discourse of barbarism and primitivism about Indigenous people. This is primarily the idea that Indigenous people are uncivilised, primitive and barbaric, and that Indigenous culture is not only worthless, it is also a significant hindrance to social, cultural, legal and economic development. There has been a developing ascendancy of this position (assimilation to Anglo-Australia values = civilisation; Indigenous culture = barbarism) over the last decade.
It is necessary to recognise that there have been gains in the assertion of rights of Indigenous people in the area of justice. While the developments have been uneven across jurisdictions, there needs to be recognition that the processes for establishing a more coherent approach to Indigenous law and order are being put in place. These gains need to be defended and supported.
Family Law | Human Rights Law
Date of this Version
Chris Cunneen, "Assimilation and the Re-invention of Barbarism" (March 2008). University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series 2008. Working Paper 3.