Human rights and first Australians' well-being

Smallwood, Gracelyn (2011) Human rights and first Australians' well-being. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

This thesis consists of a defence of what is popularly known as the Human Rights Agenda in Indigenous Affairs. The thesis begins with a consideration of the non-well being of Indigenous Australians. It then unfolds a personal narrative of my family. This narrative is designed not only to position this author in the thesis but also in its typicality to represent what has happened to so many Indigenous families. The thesis then moves to a critical engagement with dominant intellectual positions such as those advanced by commentators such as Noel Pearson, Peter Sutton, Gary Johns and Keith Windschuttle. I think it can be fairly argued that intellectuals such as these have to a great extent colonised what passes for common sense in mainstream Australia. As such, their work calls for a measured reply.

This common sense straddles the domains of history, health and education and I have chosen to follow my adversaries, for that is what they are, into all of these areas. To the best of my knowledge this thesis is one of the first attempts by an Indigenous activist to engage at a critical and intellectual level with them.

This critique is anchored by a number of key philosophical concepts developed by the Critical Realist philosopher Roy Bhaskar. The thesis advances and analyses a number of case studies - some well known, even notorious such as the Hindmarsh Island Affair and the Northern Territory Intervention; others like that of my late nephew Lyji Vaggs and Aboriginal Elder May Dunne much less so. There are six case studies in all. I could of course have chosen many more from our history. Truly it is littered with the wreckage of Indigenous lives and hopes. It was simply impossible to record the suffering of all my people. Nonetheless I want it to be known that the suffering of our people is not forgotten by me and my fellow activists and family members. I dedicate this thesis then to the memory of all those Indigenous people who have endured the long horrors of colonialism. The thesis concludes with a hope for a better Australia, one where reconciliation between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians is based on a full recognition of the rights of First Australians.

Item ID: 20193
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: First Australians, human rights, indigenous health, colonization, Australian aborigines, Torres Strait Islanders, indigenous peoples, wellbeing, Aboriginal history, race relations, North Queensland, Smallwood family
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2012 04:23
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111701 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Determinants of Health @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920302 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Health Status and Outcomes @ 50%
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