On the move? Indigenous temporary mobility practices in Australia


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. (Abstract.)

Copyright Information

The material available from The Australian National University (ANU) website comes from a number of sources including staff and students at the University, third parties who have given permission for use of their material, and material copied under statutory licences. Accordingly, no material available from the University site may be copied, reproduced or communicated without the prior permission of the University. Requests for permission for use of the material should be made to: University Librarian + 61 2 6125 2003 library.info@anu.edu.au