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Unmasking the Racial Contract: Indigenous voices on racism in the Australian Public Service

Dr Debbie Bargallie

In an era of reconciliation and cultural diversity, Indigenous peoples in Australia still experience everyday and structural racisms in the workplace. Unmasking the Racial Contract is a study of one such workplace: the Australian Public Service.

Bargallie shows that despite claims of fairness, inclusion, opportunity, respect and racial equality for all, Indigenous employees continue to languish on the lower rungs of the Australian Public Service employment ladder. By showing how racism is normalised in white institutions, Bargallie aims to help us see and understand — and ultimately challenge — racism.

This original and innovative book, written from an Indigenous standpoint, is the first to use race as a key framework to critically examine the discrimination faced by Indigenous employees in an Australian institution. Bargallie provides an insider’s perspective and privileges the voices of other Indigenous employees, and she applies critical race theory to unmask the racial contract that underpins the ‘absent presence’ of racism in the Australian Public Service. Bargallie provides an important counter-narrative to the pervasive myth of meritocracy, and encourages readers to consider the effects of the racial contract in colonial–colonised relations in Australia more broadly.

Watch our video below of Dr Jackie Huggins AM and author Dr Debbie Bargallie discussing the importance of telling the lived experience of Indigenous peoples and contributing to the critical race scholarship within Australia.