Searching for common ground

Former Governor-General Sir William Deane has launched UNSW's Indigenous Policy and Dialogue Research Unit, headed by Professor Patrick Dodson.

Dodson deane inside

Former Governor-General Sir William Deane has launched UNSW's Indigenous Policy and Dialogue Research Unit, headed by Professor Patrick Dodson.

Sir William used the occasion to label the Federal Government's actions in the Northern Territory an "embarrassment", saying he hoped the word "intervention" would be removed from the language in any discussion of Indigenous issues.

Sir William was applauded for his speech in which he called for full Aboriginal participation in any policy directed at Indigenous people.

A long-standing advocate for meaningful reconciliation, Sir William has often spoken of his regret that it was not achieved by the start of the new century.

Professor Dodson, the Director of the Unit and Professor of Indigenous Policy, told a capacity audience at UNSW's John Niland Scientia Building it was a paradox that, despite the increasing methods of communication, Indigenous peoples' voices are still not being heard.

"People in remote communities are still subject to decisions made in the southern capitals," he said.

Professor Dodson said a national dialogue - a research program he is leading as part of the Unit - is the only way to move forward.

"We are a nation trapped by our history and paralysed by our failure to imagine any relationship with First Peoples other than assimiliation, whatever its guise," Professor Dodson said earlier in an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald.

He argued that we need to move away from a dysfunctional dialogue which has left the majority of people "confused and disengaged".

Professor Dodson's public lecture was presented by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences as part of the So, What? Lecture series.

Media Contact: Susi Hamilton | 9385 1583 | susi.hamilton@unsw.edu.au