The Colonial Fantasy: Why white Australia can’t solve black problems

7 Apr 2019

Book Launch

In her new book The Colonial Fantasy, Churchill Fellow Sarah Maddison argues that white Australia can’t solve black problems because white Australia is the problem.

The evidence is in:

  • Things just generally keep getting worse for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

  • The habit for both black and white communities is to look to the Federal Government as the fixer of ‘the Aboriginal Problem’. This is not working.

  • Community based solutions are working for First Nations people in North America and we can look to them as a model. Australia is wreaking devastation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Whatever the policy, government has done little to improve their quality of life. In far too many instances, interaction with governments has only made Indigenous lives worse. Despite this, many Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders and commentators believe that working with the state is the only viable option and that leads to constant churn and reinvention as politicians battle over the ‘right’ approach.

Australia has resisted the one thing that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want, and the one thing that has made a difference elsewhere; the ability to control and manage their own lives.

Sarah Maddison asks hard questions about whether the promise of Australia can deliver for all. Like all great arguments she has made me question my own beliefs.'  Stan Grant, Author and journalist

Compelling and thought-provoking , Sarah Maddison shows that Western systems can never replace the community-driven solutions of Indigenous peoples.'  Jackie Huggins AM, Co-Chair - National Congress of Australia’s First People.

About Sarah

Sarah Maddison is Professor of Politics at the University of Melbourne and co-director of the Indigenous-Settler Relations Collaboration. She is author of Black Politics and Beyond White Guilt. Sarah was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2009 and travelled to the USA and Canada to explore sustainable structures and processes in Indigenous representative organisations.

Read Sarah's Fellowship Report at

Sarah Maddison is available for interview.

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New Fellowships for Indigenous Applicants

This year we have announced two new sponsored Churchill Fellowships specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants...

Apply online until 30 April 2019

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