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Review: “Indigenous Policy and the Scientific Gaze” seminar

by Dr Paul Tyson, Director, Emmanuel Centre for the Study of Science, Religion and Society

Our “Indigenous Policy and the Scientific Gaze” seminar was very fruitful. Emmanuel College student Jemma Power opened the event, acknowledging the traditional owners of the land and telling us a little of her own story. As an Aboriginal woman, an elite athlete, and a straight 7s student, Emmanuel College is very proud of her.

Casey Bird, a psychologist working in the juvenile justice space, delivered a fine paper on positivism and Indigenous policy. Brooke Prentis delivered a powerful speech highlighting the shocking historical reality of the ways in which knowledge discourses have played a significant role in the brutal and de-humanizing history of white Australia’s outlook on Aboriginals and on Indigenous policy. Grant Paulson spoke of the spirituality of Aboriginal ways of approaching knowledge. As cultures profoundly embedded in spiritual and relational modes of knowing, Indigenous Australians have significant gifts to offer the larger Australian community as we seek to move forward from some of the intractable troubles of modern Western living (and policy). The discussion time was also very fruitful, even though, unfortunately, there was not enough time for all the voices from the floor to be heard.

Amongst the audience, Rev Dr Wayne Sanderson was present. Wayne is a friend of Casey Bird, and has provided this link to the 2016 Amnesty International report Heads Held High looking at community and juvenile justice concerns. As Casey and Wayne know only too well, the relational and community approach to life of Indigenous Australians is still radically at odds with powerful individualist Western understandings of justice and with the oft recurring political dynamic of “strong law and order” drives, which is a consistent feature in the failure of good policy implementation that could genuinely address the massive over-representation of Indigenous youth in our juvenile justice system. Wayne has also provided us with this document from the Balanced Justice Campaign, of which he is a part. If you would like to get in touch with Wayne and be involved in the Balanced Justice Campaign, please contact the Emmanuel Centre.

 

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