On settler colonialism as (urban) planning: Ed Wensing, Libby Porter, ‘Unsettling planning’s paradigms: towards a just accommodation of Indigenous rights and interests in Australian urban planning?’ Australian Planner, 2015


Abstract: Cities and urban settlements in Australia exist on lands that are the traditional lands of Australia’s Aboriginal peoples (The focus of this article is on Aboriginal land claims in our capital cities and regional centres on mainland Australia rather than the Torres Strait, and consequently the term Aboriginal is used throughout except where the context makes it necessary to refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or Indigenous.). Yet the fact of continued Aboriginal presence, ownership and stewardship of Australian territory remains unrecognized in Australian planning. As a result, the profession is yet to grapple in a just and meaningful way with the fact of Aboriginality in Australian cities. Indeed, planning persistently renders Aboriginal people invisible, and perpetuates colonial dispossession. In this paper, we argue that planning in Australia must urgently shift to appreciate these issues, and begin to make amends. This involves understanding how Australian cities and towns can be understood as Aboriginal places, and the contemporary ways in which Aboriginal people are seeking recognition of their rights in cities and towns through processes like native title claims and determinations. We analyse urban native title applications as a key example of the challenges of recognition and the responsibility this lays down to planning and we make some suggestions for how the planning profession, practitioners, scholars and educators might proceed.

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