, Volume 99, Issue 2, pp 315-332
Date: 03 Feb 2010

Culture and Wellbeing: The Case of Indigenous Australians

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A recurring theme in Indigenous affairs in Australia is a tension between maintenance of Indigenous culture and achievement of socio-economic ‘equity’: essentially ‘self-determination’ versus ‘assimilation’. Implicit in this tension is the view that attachment to traditional cultures and lifestyles is a hindrance to achieving ‘mainstream’ economic goals. Using data from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, stronger attachment to traditional culture is found to be associated with enhanced outcomes across a range of socio-economic indicators. This suggests Indigenous culture should be viewed a part of the solution to Indigenous disadvantage in Australia, and not as part of the problem.

I would like to dedicate this paper to Deborah.