Journal article

Indigenous policy and mutual obligation: shared or shifting responsibility agreements?

1 Jan 2006
Description

Shared Responsibility Agreements (SRAs) are a key instrument of the Federal Government's new arrangements for the administration of Indigenous affairs. SRAs, described by the Government as a form of 'mutual obligation', require Indigenous communities to commit to behavioural changes or other actions in order to access 'discretionary' government funding for infrastructure or services. There are significant political, moral and practical issues raised by SRAs. In this paper we contend that despite the language of mutuality, flexibility and choice that accompanies SRAs, the approach appears more aptly associated with 'divide and conquer' tactics and a subtle shifting of responsibility for problems from governments to Indigenous communities themselves. In this paper we explore the concepts of mutual obligation and reciprocity, the structural biases that favour the state and its agencies over Indigenous communities in the SRA negotiation process, and issues of citizenship entitlements and accountability that are raised. Finally, acknowledging that SRAs can be a means for Indigenous communities to access greatly needed funding, we suggest various strategies and measures that could be taken up to make the SRA framework more equitable and effective.

Publication Details
Volume: 
Vol.41
Issue: 
No.3
Language: 
Published year only: 
2006
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