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The Australian National University

Indigenous peoples and indicators of well-being: An Australian perspective on UNPFII Global Frameworks

Working Paper 33 / 2006


A version of this paper was presented at a United Nations (UN) workshop on Indigenous Peoples and Indicators of Well-Being held on 22–23 March 2006, in Ottawa. This workshop was one in a series held across the world to canvass appropriate recommendations for the establishment of a core set of global and regional indicators that could then be used by governments, intergovernmental organisations and the UN system when designing and monitoring programs that directly affect indigenous peoples.

This paper outlines current Australian social indicator frameworks, including issues of statistical accountability and the politics of statistics. It discusses aspects of representations of Indigenous culture in formal reporting frameworks, and observes that the development of indicators in cross-cultural settings will always involve a degree of reductionism and a process of translation. The Programme of Action announced for the UN’s Second International Decade on the World’s Indigenous Peoples sets out a framework of key objectives for achievements during the decade, and this paper deals with the implication for measures of well-being from an Australian perspective. Finally, it is argued that one measure of success—in terms of establishing best practice in this area—is that Indigenous governing bodies begin to assume some responsibility for the compilation of their own measurement indicators and progress in stages to their interpretation, presentation, replication, and dissemination with the ultimate goal of their application for local planning.

Publication Note: This working paper contains a number of references to B.H. Hunter (ed.), Assessing the Evidence on Indigenous Socioeconomic Outcomes: A focus on the 2002 NATSISS, CAEPR Research Monograph No. 26, ANU E-Press, Canberra. At the time of the Working Paper's publication, this monograph is still in press, and is expected to be available in July 2006.

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CAEPR Working Paper 333.25 MB

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