Intersectionality and Indigenous Peoples in Australia: Experiences with Engagement in Native Title and Mining

  • Natalie OsborneEmail author
  • Catherine Howlett
  • Deanna Grant-Smith
Part of the The Politics of Intersectionality book series (POLI)


The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of Australia are culturally diverse, with varied experiences of colonisation. However, policy and planning processes often treat Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as a homogenised bloc, erasing differences of opinion, values, politics, and experiences and avoiding analysis of internal power dynamics. There is also a tendency for non-Indigenous policymakers to conflate ‘Indigenous’ with ‘environmental’ interests and values. Thus, despite often good intentions, consultation and engagement processes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples generally fail to adopt an intersectional approach and in turn not only often fail in their stated goal of inclusivity but may exacerbate existing conflicts within a particular group and unintentionally reproduce inequities. In this chapter, the authors outline an understanding of intersectionality as informed by Aboriginal women and bring together insights from two Australian case studies to explore some of the problems that emerge from a failure to adopt an intersectional lens when engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. They consider multiple and co-constituting axes of power with a focus on the relationships between colonisation, kyriarchy, and the lived experiences of Indigenous Peoples and outline considerations for operationalising intersectionality, particularly in the context of Native Title.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natalie Osborne
    • 1
    Email author
  • Catherine Howlett
    • 2
  • Deanna Grant-Smith
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Environment and ScienceGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, Southern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia
  3. 3.QUT Business School, Queensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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