Social Indicators Research

, Volume 99, Issue 2, pp 315–332 | Cite as

Culture and Wellbeing: The Case of Indigenous Australians

  • Alfred Michael Dockery


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.


Indigenous Culture Wellbeing Australia 



The measure of ‘cultural attachment’ used in this paper was developed as part of a project funded by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research entitled Cultural Dimensions of Indigenous Participation in Vocational Education and Training. The results relating to educational attainment and the literature review also derive from that project see (Dockery 2009a). I would also like to acknowledge the useful feedback provided by members of the Indigenous Advisory Panel to that NCVER project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Curtin University of TechnologyPerthAustralia

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