Will the real Aborigine please stand up? Strategies for breaking the stereotypes and changing the conversation
This paper provides a background to issues discussed at a workshop held by AIATSIS in December 2009, and offers some of the outcomes in order to provide a basis for further debate and dialogue and to inform future forums. The workshop focused on a matter of growing concern to many Aboriginal people - the prevalence of an erosive mindset of deficit which pervades many Aboriginal communities and its attachment to notions of identity, which includes perceptions of authenticity widely adopted from similar views held about Aboriginal people by non-Indigenous Australians. The workshop discussed issues such as: the identification of perceptions of identity within and outside Aboriginal Australia; how perceptions of authenticity arise and why they persist; the social impact of such perceptions; and the impact of legislation and policy that links entitlement to identity.
Disengaging the language of disadvantage (or pathologising discourses) was identified at the workshop as fundamental to effecting change. As methods of producing change, participants identified the need for creating safe spaces for discussion, challenging mindsets, habits and conversations and co-creating transformative pathways.