Culture and Wellbeing: The Case of Indigenous Australians
29 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2009 Last revised: 17 Sep 2010
Date Written: March 1, 2009
A recurring theme in the debate surrounding Indigenous affairs in Australia is a tension between maintenance of Indigenous culture and the achievement of 'equity' in socio-economic outcomes: essentially 'self-determination' versus 'assimilation'. Implicit in this tension is the view that attachment to traditional culture and lifestyles is a hindrance to the achievement of 'mainstream' economic goals. This paper argues the need for a renewed focus on the wellbeing of Indigenous Australians, and for empirical evidence on the link between culture and socio-economic wellbeing instead of ideological debate. Using data from National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, a strong attachment to traditional culture is found to enhance outcomes across a range of socio-economic indicators. This suggests Indigenous culture should be viewed a potential part of the solution to Indigenous disadvantage in Australia, and not as part of the problem.
Keywords: Culture Wellbeing Indigenous Australia
JEL Classification: D63, I10, I31, Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation