In this article, we set up a dialogue between two theoretical frameworks for understanding the developing relationships between indigenous Australians and the encapsulating Australian society. We argue that the concept of "the intercultural" de-emphasizes
The Indigenous Enumeration Strategy (IES) of the Australian National Census of Population and Housing has evolved over the years in response to the perceived ‘difference’ of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. Its defining characteristics are the use of locally recruited, mostly Indigenous collector interviewers, and the administration of a modified collection instrument in discrete Indigenous communities, mostly in remote Australia.The research reported here is unique. The authors, with the assistance of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, were able to follow the workings of the IES in the 2006 Census from the design of the collection instrument to the training of temporary census field staff at the Northern Territory’s Census Management Unit in Darwin, to the enumeration in four remote locations, through to the processing stage at the Data Processing Centre in Melbourne. This allowed the tracking of data from collection to processing, and an assessment of the effects of information flows on the quality of the data, both as input and output.This study of the enumeration involved four very different locations: a group of small outstation communities (Arnhem Land), a large Aboriginal township (Wadeye), an ‘open’ town with a majority Aboriginal population (Fitzroy Crossing), and the minority Aboriginal population of a major regional centre (Alice Springs). A comparison between these contexts reveals differences that reflect the diversity of remote Aboriginal Australia, but also commonalities that exert a powerful influence on the effectiveness of the IES, in particular very high levels of short-term mobility. The selection of sites also allowed a comparison between the enumeration process in the Northern Territory, where a time-extended rolling count was explicitly planned for, and Western Australia, where a modified form of the standard count had been envisaged.The findings suggest that the IES has reached a point in its development where the injection of ever-increasing resources into essentially the same generic set and structure of activities may be producing diminishing returns. There is a need for a new kind of engagement between the Australian Bureau of Statistics and local government and Indigenous community-sector organisations in remote Australia. The agency and local knowledge of Indigenous people could be harnessed more effectively through an ongoing relationship with such organisations, to better address the complex contingencies confronting the census process in remote Indigenous Australia.
The papers in this collection reflect on the various social effects of native title. In particular, the authors consider the ways in which the implementation of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cwlth), and the native title process for which this Act legislates, allow for the recognition and translation of Aboriginal law and custom, and facilitate particular kinds of coexistence between Aboriginal title holders and other Australians. In so doing, the authors seek to extend the debate on native title beyond questions of practice and towards an improved understanding of the effects of native title on the social lives of Indigenous Australians and on Australian society more generally.These attempts to grapple with the effects of native title have, in part, been impelled by Indigenous people’s complaints about the Act and the native title process. Since the Act was passed, many Indigenous Australians have become increasingly unhappy with both the strength and forms of recognition afforded to traditional law and custom under the Act, as well as the with socially disruptive effects of the native title process. In particular, as several of the papers in this collection demonstrate, there is widespread discomfort with the transformative effects of recognition within the native title process, effects which can then affect other aspects of Indigenous lives.