Racism in the APS examined in award winning thesis

Friday, 16 August 2019 - 12:15pm
2019 Stanner Award winner Dr Debbie Bargallie
Dr Debbie Bargallie with AIATSIS Chairperson Jodie Sizer. Photo: AIATSIS

Dr Debbie Bargallie’s thesis, Maintaining the racial contract: Everyday racism and the impact of racial microaggressions on "Indigenous employees" in the Australian Public Service, has been named as the 2019 Stanner Award winner.

Held biennially, the Stanner Award is a unique prize presented by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) for the best academic manuscript written by an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander author, and provides an important avenue for Indigenous scholars to contribute to national debates.

Speaking at the award ceremony AIATSIS Chairperson Jodie Sizer commended the number of high quality entries vying for the 2019 award.

“The number and quality of entries is a great reflection of the research that’s being carried out by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars which AIATSIS is proud to support. From history, to anthropology, cultural studies, health and education, all of these academic manuscripts are highly original and sophisticated contributions to their respective fields,” Ms Sizer said.

“Dr Bargallie’s work stood out in a very impressive field. Building on her own experience, and that of other public service staff, Dr Bargallie shines a light on the structural racism that is present in workplaces across Australia. The resulting publication through our publishing arm, Aboriginal Studies Press, will be a timely addition to our thought leading catalogue.”

Dr Bargallie said despite the Australian Public Service being imagined as a space of fairness, inclusion, opportunity, respect and racial equality, this research shows that it is complicit in maintaining and perpetuating the racialised conditions that impede Indigenous employment, engagement, promotion and general occupational interests.

“Racism is vehemently denied by those who claim to be committed to Indigenous employee career progression yet racial microaggression and everyday racism mark their daily experience in the workplace. The voices of Indigenous employees in this research provide a counter-narrative to the destructive and pervasive myth of meritocracy and reveal the ways in which white supremacy is perpetuated in the APS,” said Dr Bargallie.

“I am very proud to be publishing my work with Aboriginal Studies Press and to contribute to ASP's esteemed list of Australian Indigenous scholarship and voice.”

The Stanner Award acknowledges the significant contribution of the late Emeritus Professor William Edward Hanley (Bill) Stanner to the establishment and development of AIATSIS. Winners of the Stanner Award receive a glass sculpture by award-winning artist Jenni Kemarre Martiniello, $5,000 in prize money, mentoring and editorial support to bring the manuscript to a publishable standard, and publication of the manuscript by Aboriginal Studies Press.

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Last reviewed: 21 Aug 2019