On 21st June 2007, the Australian government’s minister for indigenous affairs, Mal Brough, acting on reports of widespread child abuse in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, declared a “national emergency response” and tore up a generation’s worth of social policies. The new programme unveiled by Brough and the long-serving conservative prime minister, John Howard, adopted a draconian approach to Australia’s most far-flung Aboriginal people and struck hard at a particular idealising vision of the indigenous world, unleashing a tide of moral indignation.
Brough’s programme was sprung as a surprise, without consultation with the affected communities, and without any…
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