09
Nov
07

Boyd Hunter and the Federal intervention

Boyd Hunter has written an argumentative in relation to the Federal intervention, located here.  It is necessary reading for those interested in Indigenous related politics, especially at this crucial stage some months after the initial announcement.

In my view Hunter conceptualises the dilemma and politics of Indigenous affairs really well.  He outlines some considerations of the current intervention, offers comparisons with current policy thought and focuses, importantly, with a view to improving the quality of evaluation and monitoring.  

An interesting excerpt:

Indigenous policy is one of most complex areas facing governments, as it involves many issues that do not exist for other Australians: a dynamic cultural life; a need to change social norms; unique forms of property rights, such as native title; and the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage, sometimes arising from problematic historical government interventions (such as, the ‘stolen generation’).

The concept of ‘wicked problems’ was originally proposed by Rittel andWebber (1973). Ill-defined design and planning problems were called ‘wicked’because they are often messy, circular, aggressive and intrinsically complex.Rittel and Webber contrast such problems to the relatively ‘tame’ problems ofmathematics, chess or puzzle-solving. Wicked problems have incomplete,contradictory and changing requirements; and solutions to them are oftendifficult to recognise as such because of complex interdependencies. The solution of one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create another, even more complex, problem. A wicked problem is likely to be one whose solution requires large groups of individuals to change their mindsets and behaviours.

Conklin (2003) argues that there are four defining characteristics of wickedproblems:

1. The problem is not understood until after a solution has been formulated.

2. Stakeholders have radically different world views and different frames for understanding the problem.

3. Constraints and resources for solving the problem change over time.

4. The problem is never solved (completely).

Indigenous policy is easily characterised as a wicked problem.

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