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A Voice for Australian South Sea Islanders? Political Recognition and Misrepresentation

CollectionsDPA In Briefs (previously Briefing Notes)
Title: A Voice for Australian South Sea Islanders? Political Recognition and Misrepresentation
Author(s): Fallon, Kathleen Mary
Keywords: Australian South Sea Islanders;Political Representation;Referendum
Date published: 6-Feb-2024
Publisher: Canberra, ACT: Dept. of Pacific Affairs, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, The Australian National University
Series/Report no.: Department of Pacific Affairs In Brief series: 2024/01
Striking parallels can be drawn between the result of Australia’s referendum on the recognition of First Nation Australians in the constitution and the lack of political recognition of the Australian South Sea Islanders (ASSI) throughout the 20th century and into the present. Thirty-nine years after the Whitlam government’s 1977 interdepartmental committee recommended that demographic data be collected from the Australian census, and after decades of activism by ASSI for accurate and reliable demographic data, the 2016 census finally provided a separate category for ASSI. However, given this opportunity, only 3444 ASSI ticked the ‘first ancestry’ box and 5947 ticked the ‘second ancestry’ response. This was a politically insignificant 9391 out of an estimated 40,000 people (Moore 2013:4). Some of the complex reasons for this response and its wider implications are canvassed in this In Brief. In the context of the recent result of the Voice referendum, this paper also provides another perspective on what impact this has on Australia’s relationship with its Pacific family, both internationally and domestically.
ISSN: 2209-9557


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