Reframing Poverty of Indigenous Australians
Natalie McGrath, Rachel Armstrong and Dora Marinova
Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy, Murdoch University
Published 2006 by the Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy (ISTP), Murdoch University
Copyright © 2006 by Natalie McGrath, Rachel Armstrong and Dora Marinova. All rights reserved.
No part of these proceedings may be reproduced by any means without permission.
Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy, Murdoch University, Western Australia
The paper examines the policy framework that has governed Indigenous Australians since colonisation and argues for a need to reframe the meaning of economic development to properly reflect the importance of cultural values. It suggests that using participatory methods can be a way of creating a space for dialogue where the current concepts can be challenged for such change to occur.
The quality of life for Indigenous Australians is the second worst in the world. This contrasts strongly with the quality of life for non-Indigenous Australians which rank as the fourth best in the world (Jackson 2004). For example, Indigenous Australians have three times the illness and mortality rates of non-Indigenous Australians (ABS 2006). There has been little advance in bridging the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians over the last 30 years. Improvements in Indigenous wellbeing have been slow or stagnant in absolute and relative terms and the wellbeing of Indigenous people in regional and remote areas is the lowest (Altman; Commonwealth Grants Commission 2001). Improved Indigenous wellbeing is a shared goal of Indigenous sustainable development across Indigenous people, government and industry, albeit to differing extents.
This paper closely examines how Indigenous sustainable development is framed by discourse, through a focussed look at wealth and poverty in remote Australia. Firstly, a brief policy overview is provided to set the context of the discussion. The following section introduces the Pilbara region as a case study that demonstrates the juxtaposition of mining wealth with Indigenous poverty. A review of media discourse around drought and farming; and Aboriginal land titles and economic development is used to highlight the role of culture in framing poverty and wealth. Overall the need to make visible the influence of culture on the framing of poverty and economic development, and the necessity for dialogue across culture to resolve both Indigenous poverty, and unsustainable wealth creation are highlighted. The final section introduces the concept of Indigenous sustainable development and articulates why a dialogical and political approach is required for the realisation of diverse Indigenous visions of determining the value of sustaining development.
2. Policy OverviewIndigenous early resistance exacerbated the impact of widespread massacres legitimised by theories about biological determinism. Extermination failed and was followed by policies and legislation to manage the Indigenous population. This was initially characterised as protection and moved towards being overtly assimilative by the 1940s. Protectorates were established to manage 'full bloods' in reserves and 'half-castes' were removed from their families and sent to schools or convents. Indigenous people were encouraged to disassociate from their culture and assimilate. In Western Australian (WA) this can be observed by the Native (Citizenship Rights) Act 1944 WA in which Indigenous people could apply for citizenship if they forgo traditional connections to culture and country (Stephanie 2002). O'Donoghue (1997 p. 5) writes that 'Aboriginal people had been the subject of bureaucratic intervention for much of the period of white settlementÉ.our experience of those policies, designed to 'protect' and then 'assimilate' us, was overwhelmingly negative'. The repressive prejudice of what became mainstream society, exploitation of free labour, and the stolen generation (a term describing policies in which Indigenous children where forcibly removed from their families) are only a few of the influences which have impacted negatively but have not destroyed the self-identity and strength of Indigenous people in Australia. The response by government has been such that Indigenous people have now become one of the more regulated populations within the broader Australian population (Lawrence and Gibson 2005)
The mid to late twentieth century gave rise internationally to the postcolonial era. This period was witness to a new body of discourse, including self-determination, amenable to the rights of Indigenous people. Indigenous resistance in Australia, supported by the international arena, led to major policy changes in the late 1960s (McLaughlin 2001). The 1967 referendum resulted in Indigenous people being included as citizens within the Census (previously they were categorised as part of Australia's fauna and flora) and thus considered to be the responsibility of Commonwealth authority and legislation. This marked a significant turning point in the tides of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia. McLaughlin (2001) outlines the national Indigenous policy between 1967 and 2001 which has been extended and can broadly be categorised into the four separate periods below:
An Office of Aboriginal Affairs and a Commonwealth Council for Aboriginal Affairs were established. Capacity building, increased economic independence, and improved health, housing, education and vocational training were considered transitional objectives until the Indigenous populace was integrated into the mainstream.
The COAG agreements aim to share risk and responsibility across not only government but also community organisations and industry.
This is more explicit in the Federal policy of Shared Responsibility. Australian State and Territory governments have agreed formally to work together towards these priorities in a whole of government approach through program flexibility and coordination between government agencies. This approach consisted of two basic principles:
The Federal Government commissioned a review of the social security system in 2000 chaired by Patrick McClure and titled Participation Support for a More Equitable Society 2000 (McClure 2000). This report led to Community Participation Agreements located within the Federal government's framework of welfare reform Australians Working Together. These involve a mutual obligation between Indigenous communities and Government within local and regional agreements, with the aim of identifying practical means by which people may contribute to the community in return for income support (Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs 2003).
Terms such as 'social justice' and 'self-determination' have been dropped in the Federal discourse and replaced by a discourse of mainstreaming service delivery for Indigenous people within a 'practical' approach. In April 2004 the Federal government decided to dismantle ATSIC. The mainstreaming of programs and projects has become a focus. Multi-agency Indigenous Coordination Centres (ICCs) have been established at the regional level, managed by the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination (OIPC) within the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. A number of bodies have been created at the national level to oversee the transition, including the Ministerial Taskforce on Indigenous Affairs and the Secretaries Group on Indigenous Affairs, and the National Indigenous Council (NIC).
The impact of Federal government policy changes is felt the most strongly within remote and regional Australia (the Indigenous enclave). This following section creates a broad discussion around the specific context of poverty, wealth and economy development in the more remote parts of Australia. It leads toward the suggestion that reframing Indigenous poverty here will also require a change in the way that wealth is perceived.
3. Poverty, Wealth and Sustainability in Remote Australia
Concepts of poverty and more particularly wealth are contested, with the notion of value, and more particularly what is valued varying between individuals, places and across culture. Philosopher Nancy Fraser (1999) points out that inequity in terms of economic (material) wellbeing is often in relationship with an inequitable recognition identity and rights across culture. Kobayashi and Ray (2000) add a spatial dimension for equity, arguing that attention to geographic and historical factors that locate people at risk of marginalisation are also crucial to understanding justice.
Notions of equity within and between generations are central to sustainability discourse, often connected to the idea that people of current generations should share equitably material resources – and leave enough behind for the needs of future generations (see for example Birkeland et al. 1997). An argument is made here for the incorporation of a deeper notion of equity within the sustainability framework. It would recognise that redressing material poverty in remote areas will also require attention to perhaps deeper issues of recognition, stemming from historical and contemporary contexts and reflecting Indigenous aspirations, such as sovereignty and the right to meaningful self-governance, land and resource ownership as well as issues of material wellbeing. It also requires recognition that powerful cultural values determine priorities in terms of wealth distribution, and that the requirements for equity may vary across culture and context.
To elaborate on this argument, a review of wealth and poverty in the Pilbara region of Western Australia is presented. It highlights a familiar strand of remote area development discourse where extreme wealth, created through resource extraction exists alongside persistent Indigenous poverty. This example demonstrates the unsustainable essence of wealth extraction without broader concern for the wellbeing of all people who live in a region and highlights the need for a rethinking of the nature of economic development, and therefore wealth, towards future sustainability. The discussion then moves towards a more focused analysis on how economic and cultural values cannot be disentangled when considering the framing of wealth and poverty in remote Australia. Two topical media issues for mid 2006: the question of land rights, home ownership and economic development on Aboriginal land; and the plight of drought affected farmers are used to illustrate this discussion.
3.1 Wealth and poverty in the Pilbara
Viewed from the outside, the Pilbara economy in the North of Australia is booming and has been described as the 'engine room of the nation' (Pilbara Development Commission no date). In 2003/04, mining in the Pilbara Region generated $14,524.9 million dollars and the Pilbara resources sector accounted for 55.2% of the value of Western Australia's mining dollars. In 2004/5, the Pilbara produced 4.8% of the Western Australia's Gross State Product (GSP). That is the equivalent of $122,313 per person living in the Pilbara compared to a per capita state average of $48,170 (Department of Local Government and Regional Development 2003). However this is not currently being translated into economic prosperity across all Pilbara people and places, and is most markedly the case for Indigenous people.
With a primary focus on wealth extraction for corporate and national benefit, the resources industry creates limited multipliers in local and regional economies. Regions that host a large mineral resource extraction industry have tended to maintain ongoing dependence on state support, despite being the site of huge wealth generation (Jull and Roberts 1991). The Pilbara is no exception here (Newman et al. 2006). Indeed in a speech to parliament Ben Wyatt, member for Victoria Park cites statistics from a report provided to the mining company Rio Tinto showing that 'In 2004-2005, the Pilbara produced 12.9 billion in exports, of which approximately $53 million went back into the Pilbara; that is, less that half of one percent' (Wyatt 2006).
When employment and income statistics are compared, Indigenous people of the Pilbara region receive far less financial benefit from the mining industry than non-Indigenous people. For example, through an analysis of data from the 2001 census, Taylor and Scambury (2005 pp. 64, 29) point out that
In the Pilbara, ongoing expansion of the resources industry combined with plans for increased Indigenous engagement among both the resources Industry and Indigenous communities show a capacity to double Indigenous participation in mainstream employment. Whilst the projected increase in jobs targeted at Indigenous workers has potential to significantly raise the proportion of Indigenous people in mainstream work, in the context of a growing and youthful population, it is not sufficient to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous labour force participation. It also begs answers to a range of questions around the skills requirements for workers, the array of choices that Indigenous people might make about working in the mining industry, the location of work opportunities relative to the places where Indigenous people want to live and the relative priority of engagement in mainstream workforce (Taylor 2003).
Additionally, data such as that presented above (and there is much available  ) does not necessarily reflect Indigenous measures of wellbeing and therefore can say only so much about Indigenous poverty (Taylor 2003 p.13).This highlights the crossover between from 'cultural' and 'economic' dimensions of wealth.
There is another broader question around the long term sustainability of the resources sector in any particular place which generally raises important issues around the framing of wealth and of poverty in remote areas. Without delving into some of the deeper questions around the resources industry, a core issue is that the mining industry will only exist as long as resource extraction remains profitable (see Rogers and Collins 2001 and Tapela 2002 for a more detailed discussion), with long term economic security – possibly the opposite of poverty – requiring a much broader economic base, particularly for Indigenous people who are committed to a long term future beyond resource extraction (Anfara Jnr et al. 2002; Kuyek and Coumans 2003). It is clear that resource wealth is not enough to create a sustainable economic future in the Pilbara and this leads to a suggestion that ideas of wealth need to be reframed.
3.2 The media and the framing of poverty and wealth in remote Australia
Perceptions of place and wealth have a lot to do with how wealth and poverty are perceived and experienced. Naveh (2001) speaks of an interaction between the 'concrete reality'  of a particular place, and the way that it is thought about – places create people but are also created by the way that people think about them. Whilst dominant perceptions may frame how a particular place or context is perceived in the mainstream, there are always many understandings of any place or context and the value that it holds. Media institutions provide a powerful force for the construction of people and place according to particular cultural values. Freudenburg (2005) argues that through the forum of mass media communication, those with political, ideological and economic power are able to frame what is perceived as real, or valuable, or important.
This section reviews two topical issues in 2005/06 from the media with a focus on drawing out different perspectives on wealth and poverty that they demonstrate. Firstly, perspectives form the media on the issue of land rights and economic development on remote Aboriginal communities that was particularly topical early in 2005 are reviewed. This is juxtaposed with a discussion of the more recent presentation of the plight of drought affected farmers. The review of wealth and poverty in the Pilbara was aimed at highlighting the unsustainable nature of wealth framed narrowly as resource extraction. The media review builds on this analysis to highlight the role of cultural values in perceptions of wealth and poverty in remote areas.
Media perspectives on Aboriginal land title, home ownership and economic developmen
The role that Aboriginal land titles play in poverty and economic development in remote Aboriginal communities arose as a topical issue in the media early in 2005. Events including the release of report by the Centre for Independent Studies - A New Deal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Remote Communities (Hughes 2005) ; the strongly held and publicised views of impending Labor Party President and newly appointed member to the National Indigenous Council Warren Mundine; a review of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act; and a coincidence with federal coalition party policy of individual and family responsibility helped to fuel media discourse. A strong view presented was that the communal nature of Aboriginal land titles impedes the opportunity for economic development and the development on economic base through individual and family investment in home ownership. Rapidly, the question of Aboriginal land titles, and the value of moving towards more private/individual recognition of Aboriginal land rights came to be seen as at the center of remote Indigenous economic disadvantage. This is despite a range of alternate voices that suggest such a simple solution does not do justice to the complexity around issues of home ownership, economic development and Aboriginal land titles. 
Two examples are taken from the media to highlight the way that this issue was represented.
Broader discourse around this issue, both within the media and outside it shows a range of perspectives emerging from political, Indigenous and academic spheres, covering aspects as wide as
What is clear within the discourse is the confusion across cultural and economic lines: Where do the borders between western cultural values of private property and individualism, and the apparently objective economic value of private property rights to economic development cross? What is the actual, demonstrable economic value of changes to Aboriginal title likely to be and where does it meet with the cultural value of land, and protocols for its ownership among particular traditional owners? These questions cannot easily be disentangled, yet it is clear that mainstream media coverage has favored the western cultural values for individualism and private property, with 'communal' Aboriginal land ownership cast as the antithesis to this and therefore leading to Indigenous poverty
Drought and poverty among farmers – a counterpoint
The 2006 topical issue of drought leading to poverty among farmers provides a counterpoint to the discussion around media representation on land title, home ownership and economic development in remote Aboriginal communities. Here a somewhat different media reaction to a largely similar issue – that of people living on the land in more remote parts of Australia struggling with issues of poverty ad wealth creation – is observed. Poverty among drought affected farmers alongside an increase in media coverage around climate change and water issues, in this case have combined with a government that is sympathetic to farmers (or sensitive to the need for their votes) towards a radically different type of media coverage. Two examples taken from the media are highlighted below.
Like the question of land title and economic development, the issue of drought and poverty for affected farmers is contested. Farmers have historically been highly influential in Australian politics, and whilst this influence has declined from earlier times where farming was the mainstay of the national economy images of Australia, agrarian poverty continues to elicit public sympathy which influences policy debate – according to Botterill (2003 p. 61, citing Heathcote):
Overall, the National Farmers Federation and the National Party continue to provide a powerful lobbying force ensuring that support for farmers in poverty is a political issue (Haplin 2004). This is certainly demonstrated in mainstream media coverage where farmers are frequently cast as victims of unpredictable weather events, and therefore worthy of national assistance. Yet there is also a strong argument that drought relief in at least some cases, only perpetuates farming practices that may be unsustainable in the long term (Cullin in Hall 2006).
Comparison farmers and Aboriginal Australians
Both farmers, and the residents of remote Aboriginal lands face complex challenges to achieve long term economic sustainability and these are not reviewed or assessed. The comparison between the framing of these issues by the media, however points to the way that cultural values are central to the way that wealth and poverty are framed. Mainstream cultural values feed directly into apparently economic decisions. In the example provided above, this is clearly a relief to farmers who are able to access drought assistance when in need, but has alternatively been perceived as a threat, for example, to some Indigenous people who assert the importance of customary as opposed to individual land ownership.
Overall this analysis suggests that all economies are culturally based supporting particular cultural values. The question is what and whose cultural values should be supported in the development of a sustainable economy in remote Australia. It is not surprising that current levels of engagement between remote Indigenous communities in Northern Australia and national and global economies are not providing for economic self-determination. Whilst free market capitalism is well entrenched as the system for economic development across the globe it has consistently failed to:
Additionally, global capitalism has its historical roots in western European cultural values, a long history of colonial exploitation and marginalisation of Indigenous peoples (as outlined above), tending to ignore the particular requirements of local people in local places. These market failures are all present in remote Australia and highlight the need for an innovative approach to business development.
Reframing Indigenous economic development
Persistent Indigenous poverty alongside high Indigenous land ownership, and populations where a significant proportion of long term residents are Indigenous suggest that a rethinking of remote Australian economies, towards the development of economies that are supportive of Indigenous cultural values may be required. There is potential to create connections to global markets, that are increasingly interested in niche products which are authentically Indigenous and signify cultural and/or ecological sustainability (World Resources Institute et al. 2002; Blaser et al. 2004). There are also significant benefits both for Indigenous Australians and Australia as a whole in pursuing a more Indigenous led approach to economic development in Northern Australia, including supporting and building on Indigenous land and sea management practices. These include:
One example of the type of innovation that is possible towards a diversified and sustainable economy in remote Australia which connects to Indigenous country management is the emerging industry for carbon abatement through traditional fire management knowledge and techniques provides. The issue of global warming is an ever growing concern at the global and national level, with the Stern Review (Stern 2006) presented to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom outlining the likely global economic impacts of climate change as well the potential for economic instruments to manage the transition to a low carbon economy. In Northern Australia, approximately 250,000 kilometers square per annum are burnt in late dry season wild fires. The smoke from these fires is a major contributor to greenhouse emissions as well as contributing to smog in southeast Asia, and posing a major threat to biodiversity (Armstrong et al. 2006). Traditional fire management increases the amount of carbon that is retained on the ground, preventing it from entering the atmosphere to contribute to global warming. Early season burns release half as much carbon as late season ones and a reduction in 7% of the area burned by wildfires has been estimated to save 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas (Collis 2004). A carbon industry has already developed in Arnhemland, with Conico Phillips investing $1 million each year for the next seventeen years to pay community rangers for traditional burning. With growing global and national concern for climate change, it is likely that interest in investing in traditional fire management to offset carbon will grow.
It may be that reframing Indigenous poverty requires a change in the ways that wealth is perceived and a recognition that Indigenous cultural values should be central to reconsidering what (and whose) cultural values remote economies should support. This is much more in line with the notion of sustainability that suggests integration of social, cultural, economic and environmental wellbeing, as relevant to particular people and places. Possibly more than anything else, this will require dialogue across culture.
4. Dialogue for Indigenous Sustainability
The discussion to this point in the paper, has demonstrated the complexity of determining value across culture and place in Australia. Sustainable development has emerged over the latter decades of the twentieth century as a framework to analyse the tensions that emerge across culture and place in regards to the question of what and how to value. This section provides a brief overview to the concept of Indigenous sustainability and explains why this concept necessitates a dialogue across culture.
It can be argued that sustainable development has been and continues to be an inseparable practice and ethic of Indigenous traditions. Jull (2006 p.18) states that sustainable development has been 'a daily lived reality, an organic part of evolved and evolving indigenous economies, societies, cultures, and self-identifying political communities' and 'integral to indigenous oral knowledge and sheer survival'. Mebratu (2002 p.496) writes that 'traditional wisdom has much to offer in terms of living in harmony with nature and in society' and that 'this is one of the fundamental tenants of the concept of sustainability'.
Despite this long tradition, the discourse of sustainable development has remained largely western and has ignored Indigenous efforts to articulate and self-determine their own holistic development efforts. There is still inadequate attention given by western institutions to what Indigenous people have to offer sustainable development. Indigenous concerns were accorded a high profile in the Brundtland report in 1987 (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987) but subsequent international sustainable development conferences have not met this standard (Mebratu 1998).
The discourse of sustainable development has however given Indigenous people a language to rearticulate long standing claims about Indigenous rights, self-determination and relationship to country (Havemann and Whall 2002). This language is powerful despite the fact that some culture is lost in translation, and government and industry can pick and choose elements of Indigenous sustainable development (Kinnane 2005). Kinnane also cautions that sustainable development if it is weak and doesn't emphasise local diversity of cultures, spiritual-cultural connections to natural–cultural resources, a just and fair voice in the polis and self-dtermination, it can reinforce the old resource view of cultural-natural resources. Jull writes that sustainable development
'has been the driving force and core of broad indigenous resistance to the assimilation of their homelands into the industrial economy, while providing also an ethic and rationale for the small-scale local control, knowledge, and cultural distinctiveness which indigenous societies represent' (Jull 2002 p. 22).
Indigenous involvement with sustainable development discourse leads to a necessary rethinking of other movements within this discourse and subverts the unity of interests model (Jull 2002). This is particularly necessary as the global environmental and social challenge is a crisis of values, ideas, perspectives and knowledge (Kinnane 2005). Albert Einstein argued that the significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we used when we created them (Cortese 2003). Alternative epistemological models are required to address the problems created by modern society. Hoff (1998) writes that the concept of sustainable development should ideally raise questions about the dominant western cultural paradigms and values. This must include critical questioning about the assumptions and activities of modern economics, science and technology (Calaprice 2000). It is important that Indigenous people are included in this questioning. Additionally, there are significant lessons for society as a whole about the difficult choices Indigenous people face daily in regards to which aspects of western society to incorporate and which aspects to resist.
It has thus been argued that there is an urgent need to focus upon structured dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and space must be created for this. This space would ideally be inclusive of a diversity of views including experts. Michael Dodson, an Indigenous leader and academic, acknowledges the political and dialogical processes required in his eloquent description of sustainable development (Hoff 1998, no page):
A direction more than a place: it is about innovation and opportunity and involves value judgements about the direction and speed of change. It is also multi-dimensional, involving social processes concerned with the distributional aspects of benefits and adverse impacts. And it involves political and administrative processes concerned with negotiating the rights and interests of stakeholders involved.
There has never been a mechanism for a comprehensive dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia (Dodson and Smith 2003) which is necessary for sustainable development across culture. There is no doubt that this will take time and considerable political support (Fletcher 1999).
This dialogue must go beyond a bureaucratic approach to Indigenous sustainable development and should acknowledge the political dimension of determining value within a sustainable development framework. Bureaucratic ideology in Australia is dominated by a new public management which relies upon benchmarking and indicators. This is not compatible with Indigenous social and political values which derive from a holistic base (Jull 2002). Fergusson (1994, p. xiv-xv) discusses 'the expansion and entrenchment of bureaucratic state power, side by side with the projection of a representation of economic and social life which denies 'politics'' (cited in Fletcher 1999, p.101). Bureaucratic and rationalistic policy is unlikely to be the right approach to cross-culture governance (Smith 2003).
Deliberative democracy and other participatory techniques of creating space for dialogue and can provide opportunities to include a cross cultural political dimension to decision making. Situated engagement is necessary to open up contextual spaces (Mowbray 1994) and must allow for multiple cultural interpretations. Deliberations should take multiple forms and 'include the instrumental and linear presentations of policy analysts and planners, the strategic calculations of elected officials, the commentary of public intellectuals, and the personal stories of common citizens, among others' (Suchet 2002, p.68). The style of language and narrative is important and must allow for cross-cultural understandings and influence. Indigenous people do not just want knowledge included, this needs to be able to change the way that knowledge is evaluated (Beauregard 2003, p.159). Democracy is thick when it is able to generate multiple, deep and inclusive public understandings (Sandercock 2003). This will require a transdisciplinary openness and transparency of assumptions and value judgments and an acknowledgement of the productivity of conflict (Beauregard 2003).
The 2004 Dialogue with the Pilbara: Newman Tomorrow (McGrath et al. 2005) provides an example of how deliberative democracy can be employed to encourage dialogue across culture and in particular regards to the question of value in a period where enormous wealth is being generated, but where little of this is being distributed to the local setting, as described earlier in this paper. This inequity is particular severe across culture in the Pilbara. The methodological details of the Dialogue have been detailed in a number of other publications (see for example McGrath et al. 2005), however, it is worth noting that a major conclusion of these publications was the need for experimentation in forms of communication including storytelling, visual art, music and dance. Another conclusion of relevance to this paper is the need to institutionalise methods of dialogue such as deliberative democracy in place and across place to provide space for politics across culture in regards to determining what is valuable and how this can be sustained.
The long term sustainability of Indigenous communities in Australia will depend on reframing the discourse about economic development and including the importance of value across culture. The examples from the Pilbara and remote Australia show that the gap between the western concepts and Indigenous perceptions and aspirations remains very broad. There is a need for a space where a dialogue can occur and the current political framework of mainstreaming does not allow for this. A useful way of providing such a space for dialogue and consequent opportunity for crossing culture in terms of values is the use of participatory techniques. They can potentially assist in giving a voice to Indigenous people as to what is important in the long term for the sustainability of their communities and the reframing of the poverty concept and agenda.
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 See for example Productivity Commission 2003.
 In line with Scott (2004) the perspective taken here is that everything that is known about the world is understood from a socially constructed point of reference. That is not to take the extreme relativist position that there is no reality – only socially constructed points of reference, but rather that the lens that any reality is viewed through affect how it is seen ( Scott 2004)