Conversation with
Sarah Maddison and Colleen Hayward

29 April 2019
Murdoch Lecture Theatre, Arts Building, UWA
General Public, Faculty/Staff, Students, Alumni

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The Colonial Fantasy. Why white Australia can’t solve black problems.

Settler colonial Australia is wreaking devastation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The evidence for this statement is, by now, incontrovertible. Regardless of the approach, government policies and programs have made little positive difference to the quality of life of the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In far too many instances, interaction with settler governments has only made Indigenous lives worse. The successes of a burgeoning Indigenous middle class cannot obscure this fact.

Despite this, many scholars, activists, and analysts—Indigenous and settler alike—maintain a belief that working with the state is the only viable political option. This belief has produced a situation of constant churn and reinvention, as governments of all persuasions battle over the ‘right’ approach to solving Indigenous ‘problems’, secure in their belief that new or better policy is the answer.

This conversation between Sarah Maddison, the author of The Colonial Fantasy, and senior Noongar woman and scholar Colleen Hayward, will consider why settler Australia persists in the face of such obvious failure and why Indigenous policy in Australia has resisted the one thing that has made a difference elsewhere—the ability to control and manage their own lives.

Colonial Fantasy  

Sarah Maddison is Professor of Politics at the University of Melbourne and co-director of the Indigenous-Settler Relations Collaboration.

Professor Colleen Hayward AM is a senior Noongar woman and former Pro Vice Chancellor at Edith Cowan University. She was the 2008 National NAIDOC Aboriginal Person of the Year and was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for her services to tertiary education for the advancement of the rights of Indigenous people.

Sarah’s book The Colonial Fantasy: why white Australian can’t solve black problems will be available for sale on the night, courtesy of Boffins Books.