Indigeneity – a politics of potential: influencing the policy narrative


    Impact summary

    The project’s concern is to influence public policy debate on indigenous self-determination. It researches relationships between self-determination and citizenship and democracy and how these impact on indigenous political capacity in areas such as health, education and political participation. The research has made an impact on public debate through news media and through civil society’ and policy makers’ use of the work for advocacy purposes.

    The project’s first book Beyond Biculturalism: the politics of an indigenous minority (Wellington: Huia Publishers, 2007) led to a commissioned work with Dr Alexandra Xanthaki of Brunel University for the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The work used the guaranteed Maori representation in the New Zealand Parliament as a case study on the implementation of the ILO Convention No. 169 on the rights of indigenous peoples. This work informed an examination of New Zealand’s electoral system by the National Assembly of Québec. The book was the basis of addresses to the New Zealand Human Rights Commission and the Wiradjuri Council of Elders.

    The project’s second book Indigenous health: power, politics and citizenship (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2015) prompted NSW Health to appoint me to the Bathurst Health Council. It has led to an invitation from the Australian Medical Association to write its 2018 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Report Card. The book has been reviewed by Dr Heather Came as one that ‘deserves to be a textbook in health faculties and a copy issued to government policy makers’. The book was also the subject of a public lecture I delivered to an audience of more than 100 at Charles Sturt University. In 2016 it was the basis of an invited address to the New Zealand Public Health Forum and a public lecture at the Auckland University of Technology. The Australian National Medical Students’ Association has noted that the book ‘will help inform our future policy discussions and writings’. The International Journal of Public Theology contributed to the Victorian Parliament’s international aid work in Fiji; a parliamentary Executive Officer writes “I’ve read your article, which I found… well argued and compelling… Now that I have some passing experience with working for the new Fiji Parliament, and having had a couple of visits to date, I’d be keen to look at other work which you… have been doing in this field. A report published by the Scottish Parliament, in 2017, used another article informed by this project, ‘Power, Politics and the Street Level Bureaucrat in Indigenous Australian Health’ to explain the relationship between personal political values and the frontline health worker’s greater professional effectiveness with some groups of patients over others.

    The project has publications listed in the select bibliography to the report of the New Zealand Government’s Constitutional Advisory Panel and Government department policy papers. I am cited to support proceedings in the High Court of New Zealand, the Australian Commonwealth Parliament’s Joint Select Committee Report on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, the Commonwealth Productivity Commission’s Better Indigenous Policies: the role of evaluation and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library’s Northern Territory Election 2012.

    The project’s impact includes opinion pieces for the Conversation (Australia and Canada), Policy Space, Policy Press, Discover Society and Oxford Human Rights Hub. It includes expert interviews to news media including Agence-France Presse, The Economist, Guardian Australia, Australian Financial Review, The Conversation, ABC Radio National, ABC News Radio, Radio Australia, National Radio News, Radio New Zealand National, and Maori Television.
    Impact date2005
    Impact levelEngagement


    • political science
    • advocacy
    • Indigenous
    • First nations

    Countries where impact occurred

    • Australia
    • Canada
    • Fiji
    • New Zealand
    • United Kingdom