Still Here: Sovereignty and the Queensland Aboriginal community controlled sector

Start date
Research partner(s)
Institute for Collaborative Race Research

This project explores how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have exercised control through community sector organisations. What does community control mean, and how has this meaning changed over time? Where do Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) see the sites of struggle and resistance within their own work? This project honours the political significance of the Queensland community-controlled sector, tracing its emergence from the violence of the Protection Act and assimilation era. By focusing on ten organisations with different profiles and locations around Queensland, this project seeks to capture how Indigenous sovereignty is exercised in highly localised and concrete ways.

ACCOs have been important mechanisms for resistance to colonial violence and survival in the face of state service failure. However, the end of self-determination, policy mainstreaming and the Indigenous Advancement Strategy have made them increasingly precarious and subject to state scrutiny. This project looks back to the history of the sector, and forward to its future. It explores how ACCOs in Queensland understand and express community control, what controls governments seek to exert, and how these tensions are negotiated. Using an Indigenist research approach, it celebrates the successes and emancipatory possibilities of the sector. We will work collectively over the year with two established partner organisations, and eight additional research collaborator organisations, to address three research aims.

Aim 1: Documenting the history

  • What is the history of the ACCS in Queensland, as articulated by these organisations/leaders themselves? How has the meaning of community control changed over the history of the sector? This aims to capture the critical but largely undocumented history of the sector, and communicate this to the generation of Indigenous people who have not experienced self-determination as a government approach. BIMA will lead this segment, conducting an in-depth survey of its archives and additional interviews, to produce a series of podcasts and a short documentary.

Aim 2: Analysing the present

  • How has mainstreaming affected the sector, and what does control look like today? How do community-controlled organisations understand their experiences with the state? What trajectories do they see in the sector? ICRR researchers and ACCO partners will work together to understand the difficult reality that ACCOs have faced in the past fifteen years. We will work with our partners to develop individual research processes for each group, and will produce a series of accessible articles and a report.

Aim 3: Future opportunities

  • What are the emancipatory possibilities, innovative models, and survival strategies of Queensland ACCOs? What does success look like for them? How can this knowledge be used to build the sector’s collective strength, improve government engagement, and transform policy making? We draw from Rigney’s Indigenist research approach, to locate ACCOs themselves as the expert knowledge holders and to show how they are achieving excellent outcomes for their communities. Inala Wangarra will host ACCO partners to come together to share their experiences with one another, identify barriers to their flourishing, and consider opportunities to improve government processes.

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There are no listed outputs for this project.