A research partnership with Inala Wangarra and Triple A, Still Here focuses on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations do much more than deliver services – they are sites of resistance to colonialism, ongoing struggle and emancipation.
We are working with partners from QLD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to understand their work for sovereignty and survival in the face of state violence. The project looks back to the history of the sector to understand its emergence, and forward to its potential future as a thriving site of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander political authority.
As the only Queensland-based grant recipient of the AIATSIS Indigenous Research Grants Exchange, it is fitting that Still Here honours the political significance of the Queensland community-controlled sector. We trace its emergence in the 1970s and 1980s from the violence of the Protection Act and assimilation era in Queensland. By focusing on ten organisations with different profiles and locations around Queensland, Still Here captures how Indigenous sovereignty is exercised in highly localised and concrete ways (as theorised by Indigenous scholars Moreton-Robinson 2015, 2021; Watson 2014; Simpson 2014). We also highlight the challenges faced by the sector, including defunding in favour of large mainstream organisations, racialised bureaucratic scrutiny and insecure funding. We learn from organisations how they navigate this environment to deliver outcomes for their communities and enact sovereignty, resistance and care.