Explaining Social exclusion: Towards Social Inclusion for Indigenous Australians

Current policy often focuses on 'Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage' by simultaneously addressing multiple deficits that many Indigenous people experience relative to other Australians. International literature often frames such issues in terms of the contested concepts of social exclusion and social inclusion. This paper attempts to analyse what Indigenous social inclusion might look like in a plural society such as Australia. In addition to contextualising Australian policy in broader debates, this paper also briefly introduces several relevant theories of justice, diversity and Indigenous rights to provide a theoretical framework for conceptualising social inclusion. The article concludes with some reflections on some practical suggestions to move the debate forward. In principle, enhancing Indigenous social and political participation in policy design should both increase inclusion and reduce disadvantage by enhancing the effectiveness of programs that have a substantial Indigenous client base. Keywords: Social inclusion, indigenous rights and participation, disadvantage.

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