Articles by: Jon Altman

Author Biography:

Jon Altman has a background in economics and anthropology and is an emeritus professor at the Australian National University. He works on practical issues around environmental, economic and social justice for Indigenous peoples in Australia and beyond with a number of not-for-profits. He has been an active participant in the Arena project for 20 years.

Auditing Indigenous Poverty

Jon Altman

30 Jun 2016

A major challenge all political parties face is that Indigenous poverty is deeply embedded and structural and will take a long time, innovative policy and major investments to address. The diversity of Indigenous circumstances means that a diversity of approaches will be required, but the major parties are committed to mainstreaming or normalisation options. It is only the Greens that are serious about the recognition of difference and the need for approaches that emphasise social…

Informit: Indigenous policy ‘Reform’

Reviving the settler-colonial project in remote Indigenous Australia. It is becoming increasingly common for the Australian governments to announce unpopular policy reform late on a Friday or early on a Saturday with a judicious 'exclusive' pre-release to The Australian newspaper. And so it was on 6 December 2014 when proposals to radically reform the Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP) from 1 July 2015 were announced: 'Remote dole rules [to be] twice as tough' screamed…

Informit: ‘Developing the Aborigines’

On 20 October with muted fanfare, Jenny Macklin, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) launched the much-anticipated Indigenous Economic Development Strategy 2011-2018 (IEDS). The IEDS has been four years in the making and was now the responsibility of a triumvirate of Ministers including Mark Arbib, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development and Chris Evans, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations. Fittingly perhaps, given its content, the IEDS…

Informit: Yolngu diplomacy

In July 2008, at Yirrkala in the Northern Territory, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his entourage were camped under a marquee on a section of the town park. In the same park were tribal political leaders from across East Arnhem Land, the home of the Yolngu people. Everyone had hoped for sunshine but it was drizzling with rain. At a certain point the tribal leaders walked the distance between the two groups and handed the…

Informit: From CDEP to CEEDS?

The Australian government is seeking to fundamentally reform CDEP (Community Development Employment Projects) throughout remote Indigenous Australia as a part of the NT Intervention. CDEP, established in 1977, is a mutual obligation workfare program that was a vehicle for engaging Aboriginal people in a range of community development, service delivery and enterprise development projects, funded from block grants roughly equivalent to unemployment benefit entitlements.

Informit: W(h)ither remote Indigenous economic development?

As 2011 unfolded, some reflexive summer copy appeared in 'The Australian' on disappointingly slow progress in Indigenous development in remote Australia. For several years now 'The Australian' has taken a lead role in advocating for intervention, championing the decisive actions taken in 2007 in the Northern Territory under the policy umbrella of a 'national emergency', and strongly editorialising and commentating on the need for forms of individual responsibility, private home ownership, education, employment and business…

Informit: Wild rivers

As the Senate inquires into the Queensland Wild Rivers Bill, Jon Altman argues the case for Aboriginal resources rights across Australia.

Informit: Understanding Maningrida’s High Court challenge

Informit: The Indigenous ’employment gap’

Informit: Will the NT intervention now unravel?

Informit: Neo-paternalism and the destruction of CDEP [Community Development Employment Projects]

Informit: The future of Indigenous Australia [Policy should involve more than a choice between the free market and welfare dependency.]