Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining


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Economic and Social Performance

Research monograph Australian National University. Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research ; no.

Indigenous Australia’s great opportunity in the fourth industrial revolution

Research over the past decade in health, employment, life expectancy, child mortality, and household income has confirmed that Indigenous Australians are still Australia's most disadvantaged group. Those residing in communities in regional and remote Australia are further disadvantaged because of the limited formal economic opportunities there.

In these areas mining developments may be the major, and sometimes the only, contributors to regional economic development. However Indigenous communities have gained only relatively limited long-term economic development benefits from mining activity on land that they own or over which they have property rights of varying significance. Furthermore, while Indigenous people may place high value on realising particular non-economic benefits from mining agreements, there may be only limited capacity to deliver such benefits.

The authors outline the institutional basis to greater industry involvement while describing and analysing the best practice principles that can be utilised both by companies and Indigenous community organisations. Also available in an electronic version via the Internet.

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Power, Culture, Economy

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We will contact you if necessary. To learn more about Copies Direct watch this short online video. Need help? However, this article specifically focuses on regional dimensions of the issue within Australia. The focus on the effect of the growth in mining and associated industries on Indigenous communities is justified because many Indigenous communities are located near operating mines. Langton describes a resource curse on local Indigenous populations in Western Australia. She captures the nature of the concern thus: The threat of the curse still lingers. It is likely that costs in the mining provinces will rise and cause problems for residents who are caught in highly localised impacts.

In the Pilbara anger is mounting as the distress of the locals becomes more apparent. A caravan park berth now costs a thousand dollars per week. Langton , p.

This article uses data from the and censuses to estimate the impact of the mining boom on a range of economic indicators including employment, personal and household income, housing costs and housing stress, and home ownership. However, housing and labour markets can vary substantially within such large areas, and there may be variations in the impact of mining within these areas. An area could be classified as a mining area if it met one of the following criteria: it had at least one operating mine 2 2 Information on operating mines is from Geoscience Australia.

The first approach risks identifying areas with only a low level of mining activity as mining areas and does not take into account the scale of mining activities. Operating mines are as at The employment definition is based on data from the census and aligned with the IAREs, using customised population concordances provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Indigenous Australians Are Being Imprisoned At A Startling Rate

The second and third approaches involve taking into account the scale of mining activity in the area. The third approach uses the proportion of the local population employed in the mining industry—in this article, we used a threshold of 5 per cent of the population employed in mining in Some areas are categorised as mining areas by one definition but not another identified in the lighter blue shades —27 IAREs are classified as mining areas using the employment measure but not the investment measure, and 15 IAREs are classified as mining using the investment measure but not the employment measure.

This is because employment data are available from the census and all analysis is based on a single source; this has advantages in terms of data consistency, particularly the boundaries of geographic areas. Employment data from the census allow us to identify mining areas based on the situation around the start of the current mining boom. The advantage of defining mining areas based on earlier census data is that the better outcomes in employment, income and housing in are not implicitly embedded in the classification. That is, the classification of mining is predetermined and the analysis of outcomes is independent of the definition of a mining area.

Although the results of that analysis are not reported here, the broad conclusions were the same as those drawn using the employment measure, showing that the conclusions are robust. The whiskers reported in bar charts are the 95 per cent confidence intervals based on the bootstrapped standard errors of estimates of IARE data MacKinnon If an estimate lies outside the range of a set of whiskers for another estimate, then the statistics are significantly different from one another.

In contrast, Indigenous people may be more likely to remain in a region. Regional increases in demand for labour in mining areas generated by the mining boom could increase local wages, irrespective of whether workers are employed in mining. The census provides a measure of total gross personal income i. This is because this group will receive relatively less of their income from government benefits than those who are not employed or are employed part time.

This reflects the high average wages paid by the mining sector. When comparing financial living standards of households, it is important to adjust income for differences in household size and composition to reflect differences in costs of living. This is commonly done using equivalence scales. This means that differences in household income between these groups cannot be interpreted as reflecting differences in living standards. This reflects both the higher wages paid in mining areas and the higher employment rate in mining areas.

It is clear that the mining boom has resulted in substantial increases in Indigenous employment in the mining sector, which has had a positive impact on the employment and average income levels of Indigenous people living in mining areas. However, there are concerns about the impact of the increased economic activity and the influx of workers into the areas on housing costs and housing affordability. A key component of the cost of living is housing.

There are complexities in measuring housing costs, but rental and mortgage payments are a measure for people who do not own their home outright. For those who own their home outright, housing costs are therefore treated as zero, which of course is not correct.

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Power, Culture, Economy

However, these costs tend to be relatively small and an inability to take them into account will not have a material impact on the estimates of housing affordability and stress. Mortgage repayments also provide a measure of housing costs, and the size of the average mortgage is also related to housing costs. This suggests there is a shortage of housing in mining areas.


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In response to increasing housing costs relative to income, some households may accommodate more people per dwelling, potentially resulting in overcrowding. Overcrowding occurs when the number of people living in a household is greater than the minimum number of bedrooms required by a housing occupancy standard taking into consideration the residents' age, sex and their relationship to one another.

It is possible that the higher housing costs in mining areas reflect higher quality or larger houses being constructed and purchased in mining areas. The census has only limited data on quality of housing, but it does measure the number of bedrooms per resident. The census data do not support the hypothesis that there has been overcrowding in houses in mining areas, which has offset increases in average housing costs. It appears that, on average, higher incomes in remote mining areas offset the impacts of higher housing costs in these areas. However, these measures do not tell us about how mining has affected the distribution of income, or about how people on low incomes generally, those not employed in the mining industry are affected by the mining boom.

To summarise the impact of the mining boom on household incomes, we considered the proportion of households in the bottom 40 per cent of the national income distribution. A variety of different approaches to defining housing stress have been used in the literature. Higher income households that spend more than the threshold proportion of their income on housing are not defined as experiencing housing stress because this is likely to reflect a choice either to use housing as an investment or to maintain a higher quality of housing than is required to meet their housing needs.

The major expansion of mining in Australia since the turn of the century has seen substantial increases in Indigenous employment in the mining industry, particularly in remote areas. Existing research on the economic impact of mining on Indigenous people living in mining areas has only been undertaken for specific communities as case studies. However, the averages hide an important distributional issue because the proportion of Indigenous households in the bottom 40 per cent of household incomes is It is important that attention is paid to the increase in inequality in living standards that the mining boom is generating in some remote areas of Australia.

People on a fixed low income, particularly those who depend on government benefits for their income, are disadvantaged by increased housing and other costs resulting from the mining boom. In remote mining areas, private investors may not see the value of building extra housing in response to housing price increases.

Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining
Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining
Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining
Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining
Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining
Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining
Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining

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