Rethinking Social Justice: From peoples to populations

Rethinking Social Justice: From peoples to populations

Tim Rowse, Aboriginal Studies Press

When social justice for Aboriginal communities is recognised only in the disparity between the total population and Aboriginal people as a whole, solutions suggested attempt to “close the gap”.

They frequently ignore the complexity and differences among and between the many groups of Indigenous people.

At the same time, Tim Rowse examines the recommendations of those who take another approach and highlight the range of individual circumstances of diverse communities, peoples and individuals.

He quotes the intention of Strehlow: “records of traditional Aboriginal culture in all its multitudinous aspects … their richness, interdependence and intrinsic value could be understood and appreciated by posterity”.

In a series of essays, the author summarises the approaches of the acknowledged scholars and experts and how their recommendations have affected government policies.

It is not until he reaches the more recent stance of Noel Pearson, from his experiences in the Cape York region, that he sees these two factors being drawn together.

“He (Pearson) rarely refers to statistical disparity … rather the crucial relationship to get right is between Indigenous governance institutions and the Australian governments”.

We are reminded that differences will continue to separate society until governments and Indigenous people are involved together in rethinking approaches to social justice.

The World Council of Churches used to display a sign: “Unless the people liberate themselves it is not true liberation at all.”

John Atkinson

Rethinking Social Justice is published by Aboriginal Studies Press and is available from all good bookshops or by contacting the Press directly on 02 6246 1183 during business hours.

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