A state is defined in many ways; it is often referred to mean the government of one’s country. A state is said to be sovereign in the sense that it is ascribed the greatest power and authority over its people and groups in that society (Heywood, 2002 p.87). Locke espoused that the state is a neutral, moral and ethical institution that works for the common good and upholds and protects the rights and freedom of its people. Defining state as an all encompassing governing body means that it is not questioned and challenged because it’s actions is always to ensure the survival of its society. By saying that the state is sovereign means that it is not a subject of any outside or greater state and that it independently makes its own decisions and exists as a single entity in the many nations and states of the world. It has been observed that in Australia, the aboriginal people have never been given the attention and granted the legal autonomy and rights that they deserve. Brennan (2005, p.4) had made it a point to discuss the merits of establishing a treaty between the aborigines and the commonwealth of Australia. The argument is that the aboriginal people had been the first people in the country and by ancestral rights, had been the first owners of the land. Unfortunately, the aboriginal people had been discriminated against, suffer from poverty and have limited opportunity that many interest groups had taken up the cause of the aborigines. The difficulty of establishing a treaty had been examined in different points of view, but if the state is not under any other state or power, how could it allow a treaty to be drawn up between the indigenous people of Australia and the state wherein it is obvious that the indigenous people would share the power of the state.

Brennan (2005, p.9) argues that sovereignty need not be a roadblock to the treaty process, but instead it should look at the treaty process as a means of exercising the legitimate authority of the state to be fair and just to all that it governs. Ethically, the state has the obligation to provide for the basic services to its people, and to ensure that their rights and freedoms are protected; now if the indigenous people are members of this society, then it should be able to fulfill its obligations to that group. The treaty process would not be encroaching on the state’s sovereignty, because the indigenous people had been overlooked for the longest time, the treaty will enable the state to fast track the services and protection that it owed the said group as compared to the many years that the Australians have enjoyed (Pearce, 1994, p.48). Lastly, a treaty would establish guidelines and rules that would govern not only the indigenous people but also all Australians as well in terms of legal rights, opportunities and liberties.

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Explain the concepts of institutional racism and ideological racism discussed by Hollinsworth (2006) and whether and how they can be used to analyze and understand the introduction and operation of the ‘new arrangements’ in Indigenous Affairs in Australia.

Hollinsworth (2006, p.45) on his discussion of racism put forth several kinds of racism that have existed in the past and continues to do so albeit covertly. He differentiated institutional racism from individual racism and ideological racism. Individual racism is what we are familiar with, it is the presence of thoughts and preconceived notions about a certain member of a race, and for example, a Chinese student is seen as a daughter of a working middle class businessman who sells dumplings or has a laundry store. Individual racism is based on the individual’s feeling of power and authority over other races. On the other hand, institutional racism is present when a particular organization’s actions or policies place a particular racial group at a disadvantage (Hollinsworth, 2006, p.46), an example is when a school does not admit Asian students to its arts and culture program just because they look different. Institutional racism is more prevalent in education and the media, since it perpetuates the stereotypes of particular races, for example, indigenous Australians have been portrayed as being low in intellectual abilities and are marginalized in terms of educational opportunities, in the media, the call for a treaty in favor of the indigenous people portrays them as wanting to divide the country and claim all of the country as their ancestral right (Yuval-Davis, 2002). Institutional racism can be subtle or blatant in its various forms, while ideological racism is more prevalent in and far reaching. Ideological racism refers to the promotion of the official history and chronicles of the country or state without giving importance to the other historical events and personalities that have made the country what it is today (Hollinsworth, 2006, p.51). A good example is the fact that it is only in the past decade that the concept that Australia was an empty state was revoked, in the past it was taught in schools, it was read in history lessons and written in books and displayed on museums that the ancestors of present day Australians came from Britain, ignoring the fact that indigenous Australians have been in the country since time immemorial (Langton, 1999, p. 25).

The indigenous affairs in Australia have been marked by the call for reconciliation instead of the treaty process as postulated in the early years of the movement (2005, p.65). The concept of institutional racism can identify the instances at which indigenous people are disadvantaged in an important and empowering resource as public education. In doing so, it would give a more complete and real picture of the realities of the indigenous Australians. Ideological racism can also help point out the misgivings and deceptions that the modern state had propagated in terms of excluding the aborigines from the history of Australia.


Discuss how the conceptualization of naturalist and historicist traditions outlined by Goldberg (2002) can be used to explain the emergence of state polices and practices of protection and segregation of Indigenous people in Australia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Goldberg (2002, p.91) in his discussion of the naturalist and historicist traditions defined and identified the differences and commonalities of the two concepts in order to understand better how the concept of race and the philosophy of governing the state has been transformed and changed to favor one or the other tradition. The naturalist tradition takes the opposing view towards the giving of power and inclusion of the “other” racial groups to the dominant society. The opposition of any form of association with the other race extends from marriage, education, jobs, economic status and even public transport. The naturalist tradition says that the dissolution of the dominant race will start when interracial families are accepted and permitted, hence this must be prevented at all costs. If the naturalist was for segregation, the historicist tradition was for integration. To the historicist, the inferior race should be given the opportunity to co-exist with the dominant race, to become a part of the larger society so that they would be acculturated to the ways and life of the dominant group, thereby eliminating the threat of discontent and possible retaliation. However, the other racial group is still disadvantaged in terms of their access to the services provided by the state and the primary objective for inclusion is still to be able to exert control and power over them.

The state policies concerning the indigenous people of Australia have progressed from the naturalist to the historicist tradition (Gascoigne, 2003, p.167). In the 19th century, when the right to vote was established, it was mandated that no aboriginal people could be allowed to vote; next on the list was that of education. Since this race has limited capacities for learning, they should not be allowed to study in schools that catered to the dominant race. Australia then was governed by very naturalist leaders who maybe feared that the inclusion of aborigines to the larger society would severely affect the future of the society in terms of genetic make-up and superiority, moreover; the aborigines were not given much attention because it was presumed that theirs was a dying race and culture (Stokes, 2002, p. 210). After the harsh and highly discriminatory treatment to the indigenous people of Australia, came leaders and reformers who subscribed to the historicist tradition. The new phase in the history of legislation for the indigenous people of Australia saw the granting of autonomous governmental control to different tribes who have been actively pursuing their right for representation (Gascoigne, 2003, p.159). The government also became more sincere in their efforts to provide the basic needs and services to the group as well as preserve their ancestral domain and culture. However, as well meaning as this actions were, it grew out of the concern for the racial wars that sprang in the early 20th century. The historicist saw the move as a strategy to appease the indigenous groups and its supporters as well as gain control over them.

Critically discuss the kinds of ‘institutional inheritance’ (Rowse, 2006:176) that Rowse argues inhibit the return of assimilation as a public policy in Australia.

Rowse (2006:176) argued that the institutional inheritance that would greatly hamper the assimilation of aborigines to the state is the statistical data of indigenous people gathered in the past years. The state had mandated the identification of non-aborigine and aborigine Australians in the census questionnaire which until in the 1970’s was not prevalent. Moreover, the statistical department has been gathering statistical data of the aboriginal people and the government has made the data substantiate their actions and policies regarding aboriginal people. The common theme of the findings of the survey had indicated that aboriginal Australians are greatly disadvantaged in terms of education, health care, employment and quality of life. The efforts for assimilation means that the government would want to integrate the aboriginal Australians to the mainstream population, whereby they compete with the access to the basic services of the state. As such, any efforts of assimilation should highlight the homogeneity of the groups of people that comprise the citizens of Australia and not create division or disparity.

It has been argued that it is high time for the citizens of Australia to unite and dispel the distinction between non-aborigine and aborigine people. But how could this occur when each one of the aboriginal Australians are being scrutinized and quantified as such, in effect the state is highlighting the differences between aborigines and mainstream people. The government makes use of the statistical values of the census of aboriginal Australians in the determination of the delivery of basic services and goods (Rowse, 2006;176). Thus, instead of people welcoming the aboriginal individual in their community, they meet them with hostility in the event that they are given special attention and additional funding. Moreover, the mainstreaming says that all people will be competing for the same services and products which the aborigines might not become involved with because they perceive the governmental staff to be uncaring and insensitive to their needs. With the abolishment of the office for the indigenous people, the control and power is returned to the state and the basic delivery of the services will become less efficient as it is channeled through the hierarchy of bureaucracy (Sanders, 2002). This would further alienate the aborigines from assimilating to the larger community since they feel that they are scrutinized and given preferential treatment which undermines their confidence in their elves. Lastly, the reliance on statistical data might not take into account the differences in values and culture heritage of the specific aboriginal tribe. Assimilation means that the other group of lesser influence would be made to change and adopt the behaviors of the dominant group.

It is without a doubt that assimilation or mainstreaming is now the trend in the laws and legislations for indigenous aborigines of the country (Morrissey, 2006, p.353). But using an in-house statistical data to explore the profile of the organization and of its clientele is possible but limited in scope.