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Indigenous employment outcomes in the Australian mining industry

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Mining has been at the forefront of colonialisation and has penetrated deeply into indigenous territories around the world. Consequently, indigenous employment also has a long history in the mining industry. In the Pilbara region of Western Australia around 300 Aboriginal people were estimated to have worked in the alluvial tin fields 24 years after its discovery in 1882 (Wilson 1980 cited in Holcombe 2004). Aboriginal labour has been an instrument of colonisation in Australia. Providing labour to resource industries may initially have been a survival strategy to enable Aboriginal people to remain on their land (Aird 2001) or to adopt to their new surrounds after their forced removal and placement in Aboriginal reserves and missions (Elder 2003; Holcombe 2004). Labour in the eyes of colonisers was considered valuable, and perhaps the only asset that Aboriginal people were able to offer that could be harnessed to meet colonisers' needs. This especially appears to be the case in northern Australia, given the scarcity of non-indigenous labour (Reynolds 2003).
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Keywords: australian; employment; indigenous; industry; mining

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 12 November 2008

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