While many Australian indigenous communities may be associated with western desert regions or remote country towns, this paper explores the notion(s) of indigenous communities in relation to the inner city.
Given the potential nature and range of assumptions about communities in general, the paper will focus on three specific aspects of indigenous ‘involvement’, the first of which addresses the overall notion of what constitutes community and thus what constitutes community in relation to indigenous populations? On the basis of this, and given that communities in general may be understood and/or perceived in a range of different ways, the second investigates how indigenous communities are often regarded as being enclosed or self-aggregated – almost as if there is a negative perspective from the outside looking in – and thus addresses the question why might it be assumed that these people have nothing to offer? In opposition to this, then, and given the potentially positive nature of indigenous communities, the third, and perhaps most important section of the paper, involves a close examination of a particular urban indigenous population, that of Redfern in NSW, in order to advance the view that such a community might engender issues, qualities and/or values that can be utilised to enhance other and different communities.
This paper therefore addresses the idea of indigenous communities from two quite different perspectives. The first interrogates the negative approach of the outsiders looking at indigenous communities and, in a sense, mentally pushing them away, as if to say ‘they don’t have anything to do with me’, while the second, and more positive approach, advances the proposition that there are indeed different and additional community elements within indigenous populations that might seriously enhance the nature of ‘ordinary’ communities.