Racist Stereotypes, Resistance and Reclaiming Dignity

6 July 2017


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This lecture is being held to commemorate NAIDOC Week.

Settler Australians came to know Aboriginal people through demeaning stereotypes that alternated between the noble savage and the violent primitive. By the early twentieth century such stereotypes were ingrained in everyday life, as evidenced by the use of racial slurs and caricatures in the branding of consumer goods. The noble savage also emerged in Australian fiction, and was personified by the much loved character, Detective Inspector Bony. Today, racist stereotypes remain a powerful influence on Australia's public institutions, and in particular, state police forces.

In this lecture, we will discuss how generations of Aboriginal people have resisted demeaning stereotypes. Early activists such as Jack Patten fought against the racist branding of household products. Contemporary Aboriginal writers are speaking back to archetypes such as Bony, and Aboriginal communities are increasingly asserting self-determination in policing. All belong to a tradition of reclaiming dignity in the face of enduring racism.


Dr Nicole Watson, The University of Sydney Law School

Dr Fady Aoun, The University of Sydney Law School

Dr Amanda Porter, University of Technology Sydney


Jeff McMullen, Journalist, Author, Filmmaker

Jeff has been a journalist, author and filmmaker for fifty years, including long-running positions as ABC Foreign Correspondent and reporter for Four Corners and Sixty Minutes. Throughout his professional life, Jeff has written, filmed and campaigned around the world to improve the health, education and human rights of Indigenous people.

CPD Points: 1.5

This lecture is being convened by the Wingara Mura Committee of The University of Sydney Law School.

Time: 6.30-8.00pm (registration and light refreshments from 6.15pm)

Location: Redfern Town Hall, 73 Pitt Street, Redfern

Cost: Complimentary, however registration is essential.

Contact: Professional Learning & Community Engagement

Phone: 02 9351 0429

Email: 2f13581803225c1e43222a1e084f1a1552792a10107b075a