Evidence and Contestation in the Indigenous Policy Domain: Voice, Ideology and Institutional Inequality

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Abstract

There is a tension in the evidence-based policy paradigm as it concerns Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly with regard to their standing as evidence providers. Aboriginal people in Australia have primarily been seen as a ‘problem to be solved’ and racialised views of Aboriginal competence have allowed for past policy, now recognised as harmful, to be justified as being ‘for their own good’. This article considers some of the complexities of the evidence-based policy paradigm as it applies to the Indigenous policy domain, arguing that in such a turbulent field the use of evidence is inevitably ideological and selective. The article concludes that, in light of persistent institutional inequalities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices and perspectives in genuine dialogue about policy is the only way to navigate this difficult terrain with any chance of success.

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