Intersectionality: Aboriginal Women and Employment

Tara attended the 2017 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women where she represented Charles Darwin University. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Applied Social Science (Indigenous Resource Management & Indigenous Social Policy)


Colonisation involved the implementation of an overriding patriarchal system through the intentional dismemberment of traditional Aboriginal economic, political, social, spiritual and ceremonial domains. Aboriginal women have had their land, families and personal autonomy systematically removed by generations of discriminative government policy, whilst simultaneously being blamed for their low socio-economic position in Australian society. This continues to perpetuate the colonial and patriarchal oppression of Aboriginal women inherited by society today.

Aboriginal women are already vulnerable to living in poverty, and to psychological distress associated with these material living conditions. Growing inequality further risks marginalising Aboriginal women by making it more difficult to access health, housing and employment, as well as increasing stigma and diminishing equality of opportunity more generally.

In Central Australia, Aboriginal women commonly experience discrimination in the workplace on two fronts; firstly, based on their Aboriginality and secondly, based on gender. The combination of these intersecting axes disempower Indigenous women to a degree not experienced by white, or ‘racially privileged’ women and cannot be understood by thinking about race or gender in isolation. Intersectionality is the concept of such tension.

This paper aims to explore intersectionality in a post-colonial Australian context and to identify the relationship between social determinants and economic empowerment for Aboriginal women in Central Australia.

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