Indigenous Australians and the COVID-19 crisis: Perspectives on public policy

Detail from Gulach 2006 by Terry Ngamandara Wilson
Author/editor: F. Markham, D. Smith and F. Morphy
Year published: 2020
Issue no.: 1


This Topical Issue is a compilation of eight short papers that have been written during the rapid escalation of the Australian response to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

First Nations people are being, and will continue to be, affected by this crisis in ways that differ from the effects on other Australians. The pandemic risks exacerbating deep-seated health, social and economic inequities in Australian society, especially the long-standing inequalities between First Nations people and other Australians. The pandemic has also made plain the shortcomings of the relationships between Indigenous people and Australian governments, revealing a governance gap that is difficult to ignore. But despite these inimical conditions, the disruption of the COVID-19 crisis is opening up new opportunities for public policy change. And many First Nation organisations and communities are leading the way. Unprecedented new government expenditure creates space for policy innovation, as the boundaries of what is possible become blurred.  The pandemic is a time of stark risks, but it is also a time when informed policy bravery could create new foundations for a better future. 

Contributions to this Topical Issue focus on employment impacts, social security reforms, Indigenous governance, violence against women, the Indigenous health workforce, school closures, energy security in remote communities, and a proposal for an Indigenous reconstruction agency


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