FASS Public Lecture Series
Official Launch of The Indigenous Policy and Dialogue Research Unit (IPDRU)
Thursday 20th August 2009 saw the Official Launch of The Indigenous Policy and Dialogue Research Unit with a formal opening by Sir William Deane AC, KBE, QC former Governor-General of Australia.
In late February 2009, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales announced the formation of a new research initiative: The Indigenous Policy and Dialogue Research Unit (IPDRU). IPDRU is headed by Patrick Dodson as Director and Professor of Indigenous Policy. The Unit will provide an institutional and research base for the Australian Dialogue initiative, established by Professor Dodson and his colleague Lieutenant General John Sanderson AC.
Professor Patrick Dodson is a Yawuru man from Broome in Western Australia. He is the founding Director of the Indigenous Policy and Dialogue Research Unit at UNSW and the 2008 recipient of the Sydney International Peace Prize. Professor Dodson is a former Director of the Central Land Council and the Kimberley Land Council, a former Royal Commissioner into the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody inquiry and for six years was the Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. He is currently the Chairman of the Lingiari Foundation, an Indigenous non-government advocacy and research foundation, and is also significantly involved in matters relating to the preservation and enhancement of Indigenous rights and culture.
The opening was followed by Patrick Dodson’s So, what? lecture : So what now? Dialogue and nation building in contemporary Australia.
The relationship between Indigenous people and the nation state is framed by two opposing forces within the assimilationist approach: On the one hand there is an aggressive polemic, often masquerading as scholarship, which portrays traditional culture and the structures that protect and support Aboriginal society as reasons for chronic disadvantage and impediments to closing the gap. And on the other hand there is the reality of contemporary Indigenous nations throughout Australia whose peoples want liberation from material deprivation, sickness and social disorder, but at the same time defend what is most important to them: their culture and identity. We are a nation trapped by our history and paralysed by our failure to imagine any relationship with First Peoples other than assimilation, whatever its guise. It is this political paralysis that has motivated a number of prominent Australians – Black and white – to work together on a national dialogue to search for a new form of inclusion around paramount Aboriginal values and a pathway for honoured coexistence. It aims to stimulate a serious conversation about modern Australia’s complexities rather than continue a dysfunctional debate th at does not respond to the political and economic challenges of our time.
- Lecture on UNSWTV