Investigation of changing indigenous migration practices for the Northern Territory of Australia
: theoretical and policy implications

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    This thesis by publications is a substantial contribution to understanding current and anticipated migration practices for Indigenous people in the Northern Territory of Australia. In contrast to existing scholarly knowledge about the relationship of residential migration to Indigenous demographic futures, this thesis argues we should anticipate bifurcations from past flows and patterns in remote areas. The purpose is to explore a range of demographic and social issues for their influence on residential migration. Drawing on parallel experiences in comparable developed nations, a series of investigative studies demonstrate the force of migration for substantially changing population distributions and compositions for small, isolated and dispersed Indigenous populations like those of the Northern Territory. While policy approaches to Indigenous affairs continue to portray remote communities as the ‘rightful’ places for Indigenous people, this thesis argues for more encompassing theories, a broadening of the research agenda, a revision of demographic discourse, and a shift in policy paradigms.

    The methodological approach is positivist using a mix of empirical, ethnographic and investigative studies undertaken during the course of the candidature, and as part of a broader research program on changing Indigenous demographics in the Northern Territory and elsewhere. Investigations span a range of themes including: Indigenous population estimation, enumeration and forecasting; women, migration and gendered demography; technology and Indigenous futures; and education. The focus is on describing how changing interrelations between these might alter future migration patterns. Equally the research emphasises the value and relevance of systematic perspectives on Indigenous migration and mobility of all types (permanent residential, short-term and so on).

    As a result, this body of work is a call for policy makers to stay abreast of developments proposed by the results presented herein. Even partial fulfillment of the trends anticipated will require planning and program responses to deal with social, demographic and economic consequences. In doing so, policy ‘blind spots’ might be avoided so that unintended consequences and misguided institutional scopes are not permitted to undermine continuing attempts to provide Indigenous Australians with opportunities for generating and enjoying lives of relative abundance which are afforded to most Australians.
    Date of Award2012
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDean Carson (Supervisor)

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