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Sensitivity Warning

First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

Journal article

The path is made by walking: knowledge, policy design and impact in Indigenous policymaking

Policy failure Policy analysis Policy implementation Aboriginal people (Australia) Indigenous knowledge Torres Strait Islander people Australia

2020 threw into stark relief the fact that the impact of policy interventions in Indigenous affairs over the last decade and a half has been scandalously minimal. Explanations for this focus on technocratic themes such as implementation, leadership failure or lack of resources. The problem, however, is not a technical one, there is something wrong with the policy design related to Indigenous Australians. Policy design involves questions of not just what we know, but how we know, and how this knowledge is mobilised in and through policymaking. Policy impact Indigenous contexts is low precisely because contemporary policymaking excludes the knowledge and insights of Indigenous people. This makes important knowledge inaccessible to state and non-state actors, and fatally weakens policymaking. This paper appropriates the concept of metis to interrogate the root of policy failure in processes of epistemological exclusion and suppression that underpin modern statecraft is of critical importance to improving the impact of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy enterprise. The chief contention is that improved impact in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy enterprise hinges on centering Aboriginal metis at the epistemic, discursive, and conceptual core of the enterprise.

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