On the move? Indigenous temporary mobility practices in Australia




Prout, Sarah

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Canberra, ACT : Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), The Australian National University


A range of Indigenous population dynamics play out underneath the demographic picture that can be constructed from official statistics. Primary among these are temporary mobility practices. Although temporary movements are largely 'uncaptured' by conventional statistical measures, they are pervasive in public life and thought. Words like 'walkabout' and 'nomadic' are commonly used in public discourse to characterise Indigenous people as highly mobile over the short-term, and such movement is regularly constructed as problematic for mainstream health, education and housing providers. This paper draws together the disparate body of existing research regarding Indigenous temporary mobilities to build a more comprehensive picture of these population dynamics and their policy implications. It describes the temporal, spatial and demographic dimensions of Indigenous temporary mobilities, analyses the key contextual factors that shape them, and outlines how these population dynamics relate to the governing state. The paper concludes with an exploratory discussion of the policy options and implications relating to Indigenous temporary mobility. It outlines a number of areas that require further research and proposes productive ways forward as policy makers and service providers seek to more actively and intentionally engage with Indigenous temporary mobility practices.






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Open Access

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