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Politics, public policy and the media: The closure of the Swan Valley Nyungah community 2003

Delmege, S. (2004) Politics, public policy and the media: The closure of the Swan Valley Nyungah community 2003. In: Cultural Studies Association of Australasia Annual Conference: Everyday Transformations: The Twenty-First Century Quotidian, 9 - 11 December 2004, Murdoch University, Murdoch, W.A


Media coverage of the Alistair Hope coronial inquiry into the death of a 15 year old girl in an urban Aboriginal settlement in Perth (2001) revealed the common, everyday experience of sex abuse in the Aboriginal communities across Western Australia. This prompted public calls for government action and lead to the .Gordon Inquiry.(2002). Importantly, the Gallop government accepted 195 of its 197 recommendations to redirect government agencies to cooperate and work collaboratively with indigenous communities to address domestic violence and child abuse. However, it rejected the only recommendation specifically related to that community, which was to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding and, nine months later, introduced a Bill to close the community and dispossess the occupants. The Reserve (Reserve 43131) Bill 2003 was pushed through in two days and received favourable media coverage and public support. The extraordinary nature of the legislation was justified on the grounds that it was a response to a unique and extraordinary situation but, within weeks, a parliamentary inquiry was established to inquire into the reasons for this legislation and its passage at such short notice.

This paper analyses evidence provided to the Select Committee on the Reserves (Reserve 43131) Bill 2003 to reveal a disturbing process of intervention, whereby the timing, procedure and actions suggest media and political opportunisms that set a precedent for government intervention and raised serious questions about the social and political forces guiding this extraordinary governmental action.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
Conference Website:
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