Aboriginal Self-Governance: Turning Practices into Rights in South Eastern Australia
KeywordsAboriginal Australians -- Politics and government
Aboriginal Australians -- Legal status, laws, etc.
Aboriginal Australians -- Social conditions
Self-determination, National -- Australia
Nation-building -- Australia
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Collection InformationThis item is part of the IPLP Dissertations collection. For more information about the collection or the program, please contact Justin Boro, UA College of Law, email@example.com.
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
AbstractThe legal and political institutions of the Australian state do not recognise Indigenous peoples as distinct, political, self-governing collective entities. Despite this, some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, nations and societies seek to exercise authority and jurisdiction through governing institutions on their own Country. This dissertation presents detailed case studies of the governance structures and political strategies of two south eastern Australian Aboriginal nations, the Gunditjmara People and the Ngarrindjeri Nation. As their governing institutions increase in effectiveness and legitimacy, they are better able to exercise responsibility for Country and their citizens as self-defined and self-determining peoples, and engage externally with other entities including Australian governments. This is an exercise of "political governance" (to be contrasted with.corporate governance) and a process of nation (re)building. Gunditjmara and Ngarrindjeri governing is not reliant on non-Indigenous support or delegated authority but does not exclude mutually beneficial partnerships that, over time, demonstrate an increasingly intergovernmental character. This is arguably the exercise of de facto sovereignty, and, ultimately, the constructed narrative of a single, indivisible sovereign Australian nation becomes conceptually unsustainable. This dissertation outlines conceptions of "sovereignty", including Indigenous reconceptualisations of sovereignty to question its efficacy in political advocacy. It concludes that, as theorised in international law, de facto sovereignty is a basis of lawful authority that may provide a promising avenue for advocacy in asserting collective Indigenous rights. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers should be aware that this dissertation contains the names of people who have passed away.