Whose Economy?    UWS and Oxfam Seminar Series        Lessons from the Outback?How Community Complexity Shaped Indigenous ...
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Lessons from the Outback...?   Background   Participation, negotiation,    deliberation, collective agreements    => com...
Community who?    A community can be defined without     geographical borders     – as a body of people, with some     de...
The story Three mines Many communities Many demands Many tactics Many outcomes (civil  regulation) Whose success?    5
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Is the concept of „community‟ of any    use?   Communities must deploy significant time and resources in order to bring  ...
Community for whom?    Little substantial political equality     between a company‟s stakeholders    And between differe...
Are all represented?    Feeling amongst some local Indigenous community     members that they had not been sufficiently i...
Substitution risk     Government substituting royalty or other benefits derived      from mining in the place of governme...
Who left to regulate whom?    As partnerships between community organisations and     business proliferate, boundaries be...
Whose win-win?     The principal benefit companies could offer –      employment and training – was irrelevant to many   ...
Lessons....? Are we really talking about  stakeholders? Are the risks worth it and  how can they be managed  and minimis...
To view all the papers in the Whose       Economy series click hereTo view all the videos and presentations       from the...
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Lessons from the Outback? How community complexity shaped indigenous Australians' relationships with miners - Katherine Trebeck

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Dr Katherine Trebeck, Policy and Research Advisor for UK Poverty at Oxfam, talks about the relationships between indigenous Australians and miners to draw lessons on communities and power imbalances.



The Whose Economy? seminars, organised by Oxfam Scotland and the University of the West of Scotland, brought together experts to look at recent changes in the Scottish economy and their impact on Scotland's most vulnerable communities.

Held over winter and spring 2010-11 in Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow and Stirling, the series posed the question of what economy is being created in Scotland and, specifically, for whom?

To find out more and view other Whose Economy? papers, presentations and videos visit:
http://www.oxfamblogs.org/ukpovertypost/whose-economy-seminar-series-winter-2010-spring-2011/

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Lessons from the Outback? How community complexity shaped indigenous Australians' relationships with miners - Katherine Trebeck

  1. 1. Whose Economy? UWS and Oxfam Seminar Series Lessons from the Outback?How Community Complexity Shaped Indigenous Australians‟ Relationships with Miners Inverness Katherine Trebeck Oxfam‟s UK Poverty Programme March 25, 20111
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  3. 3. Lessons from the Outback...? Background Participation, negotiation, deliberation, collective agreements => community ownership? Communities themselves are not cohesive, they seldom engage as one single voice, nor advocate an uncontested position There are risks and caveats 3
  4. 4. Community who? A community can be defined without geographical borders – as a body of people, with some degree of shared history, values or objectives Communities of fate a more useful concept? The plural (communities) reminds us of complexities and heterogeneity Stakeholders as a company‟s „community‟ 4
  5. 5. The story Three mines Many communities Many demands Many tactics Many outcomes (civil regulation) Whose success? 5
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  20. 20. Is the concept of „community‟ of any use? Communities must deploy significant time and resources in order to bring leverage to bear over miners Each instance of confrontation highlighted considerable sacrifice in order to organise and attend protests of various kinds In terms of civil regulation it is invariably only those passionate enough; with time (or choosing action in one realm at the expense of participation in another) = Burnout (exhaustion, resignation and eventually withdrawal) Toby Gangele: “I‟ve given up. It‟s been six years now. I‟m not fighting anymore” Formal engagement processes are also time and resource intensive (agreement negotiations, meetings, and reviews all make great demands on those involved) Only a small proportion of people will be able to directly and actively involve themselves (ie those holding strong – although not necessarily widely held – positions) This can lead to de facto representation (those speaking the loudest, displaying most charisma or simply those who are able to dominate others, those who conform to norms of discourse and eloquence) - at the expense of those with little persuasive force or status? 20
  21. 21. Community for whom? Little substantial political equality between a company‟s stakeholders And between different elements within communities themselves = factions, divisions, tension, winners, losers 21
  22. 22. Are all represented? Feeling amongst some local Indigenous community members that they had not been sufficiently included in an agreement with the mining company Eg „the forgotten Waanyi‟ = seeking alternative means – the sit-in – to achieve their demands Considerable effort to understand the contours between representative organisations and their constituents, and the complex inter-community dynamics - Eg Rio Tinto‟s engagement with anthropologists, sociologists and other „community experts‟ in this process 22
  23. 23. Substitution risk Government substituting royalty or other benefits derived from mining in the place of government provision results in a reduction of state finance for community services Communities may not gain any net financial benefit if mining monies are used to finance services that government would have provided anyway Perceptions that existing (or threatened) lack of government delivery mean that some Indigenous communities might acquiesce to mining if they view mining as the only means to obtain necessary outcomes – health and education services or employment, for example In some, already disadvantaged, localities Indigenous communities are therefore understandably increasingly looking to mining companies to deliver needed infrastructure and services 23
  24. 24. Who left to regulate whom? As partnerships between community organisations and business proliferate, boundaries become blurred with corporate provision of certain services demanded by communities But, which sector of society will have sufficient independence to restrain potential abuse of this broadening corporate role? Growing expectations that companies will respond to the social demands of certain communities creates a potentially dangerous situation where corporations, through their CSR programs, assume some citizenship obligations traditionally accorded to the state, while remaining beyond formal democratic process When governments support corporate development (as they did in all the case studies), the task falls again to communities to monitor and hold companies accountable 24
  25. 25. Whose win-win? The principal benefit companies could offer – employment and training – was irrelevant to many local Indigenous people who were either uninterested or unable (due to health or safety requirements, for example) to take up employment and training opportunities Therefore many were excluded from the initiatives offered by companies Conflation by industry of their interests and those of Indigenous communities – implied in the assumption that „mutual benefit‟ is possible – means that Indigenous people are restricted to those benefits offered and deemed appropriate by companies 25
  26. 26. Lessons....? Are we really talking about stakeholders? Are the risks worth it and how can they be managed and minimised? How might communities position themselves? How can power imbalances be addressed? 26
  27. 27. To view all the papers in the Whose Economy series click hereTo view all the videos and presentations from the seminars click here

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