Revisiting Neoliberalism: Aboriginal Self-Determination, Education and Cultural Sustainability in Australia

Sue Stanton, Chie Adachi, Henk Huijser


In this paper we discuss the ways in which successive governments have addressed Indigenous affairs, and we argue that the Australian approach is still firmly rooted in colonial attitudes and discourses. Although self-determination is a core concept of neoliberalism, the dominant political ideology for both Labor and Liberal parties in Australia since the 1980s, it does not extend to Indigenous affairs, which is firmly couched in colonial frameworks. In this paper specific examples of education and cultural sustainability (including language development and sustainability) are used as case studies to explore what genuine self-determination would mean in an Australian context. Overall, it is argued that an honest and real neoliberal approach takes political courage and vision, but would place the power to control Indigenous affairs in the hands of the people whose affairs we’re actually talking about


Aboriginal self-determination; neoliberalism; cultural sustainability; Aboriginal language development; Aboriginal education

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