Constitutional Recognition in the 21st century: why collectivism feels counter-intuitive.

Josephine Bourne
Josephine Bourne



Constitutional recognition and reform inspires the question: how do Indigenous peoples achieve a level of ‘autonomy’ that affords them the agency to protect fundamental rights within the terms and conditions of the settler state? The Uluru Statement articulates two mechanisms for structural reform. The first mechanism is a voice to parliament enshrined in the Constitution. The second mechanism is a Makarrata Commission to oversee two bodies of work; (1) agreement making between First Nations and the state, and (2) truth-telling about Australia’s history. The effectiveness of these structural reforms on delivering agency for Indigenous people and communities will rely solely on the people involved in building and operating these mechanisms. The first body of work should at least be able to do what many hoped the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) would do; (1) to inform and develop policy, (2) to translate policy into programs (3) to deliver programs to people in culturally and politically complex settings through practice informed by old knowledges and new experiences. The second body of work should not merely be a continuation of the current work being done by Reconciliation Australia but rather an approach of structural decolonisation. This seminar will analyse the complexities between the proposed mechanisms of engagement with the state and the individual and collective interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The implications of individuals as political actors inside and outside of collectives such as communities and organisations will also be considered.


Josephine Bourne is a mainland Torres Strait Islander, born in Townsville, North Queensland. She is a Gumulgal woman of Mabuiag Island through her father's ancestral line with links to Moa Island. On her mother’s line Josephine's ancestry links to Badu, Mer and Dawar Islands. Her research interests are multi-disciplinary and focus on governance, leadership and organisational development by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. Josephine's professional experiences include working in the national Indigenous leadership space, organisational development and Indigenous youth leadership development. Josephine is currently a lecturer in Indigenous Studies and completing her PhD at Macquarie University.








Date & time

Wed 24 Oct 2018, 12.30–1.30pm


Rm 2145 (John Altman Rm), 2nd Floor, Copland Building, Kingsley Pl


Ms Josephine Bourne

Event series


Annette Kimber
6125 0587


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