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Discussion paper

Experimental governance in Australian Indigenous affairs

Aboriginal people (Australia) First Peoples Australia

The competing principles framework for analysing Australian Indigenous affairs is revisited, starting with Rowse on 'the Coombs experiment'. Rowse rehabilitates this term from pejorative critics, arguing that all government policy in Indigenous affairs is experimental. The task becomes one of characterising changing patterns of government experiment since the Commonwealth became involved in Indigenous affairs on a national scale after the 1967 constitutional alteration referendum. This paper develops a two-phase characterisation, changing from the milennium. The first phase is discussed under the heading 'Indigenous-Specific Structures and Programs', the second under the heading 'Welfare reform, Contractualism and Normalisation'. The name Pearson is as synonymous with the second phase as Coombs is with the first. Rowse has much to offer on both these prominent personalities and phases, as well as a complementary schema to the competing principles focused on peoples and populations.

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