Institutional racism and (in)justice: Australia in the 21st century

Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Library
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Decolonization of Criminology and Justice, 2019, 1 (1), pp. 29 - 51
Issue Date:
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This article focusses on systemic and institutionalised racism against Indigenous people as a contemporary feature of the Australian social and penal landscape, and its implications for justice. There has been ongoing concern with institutional racism within the criminal justice system, however, this article concentrates on the intersection between institutional racism in non-criminal justice settings and their compounding effect on criminalization. Despite legal prohibitions on racial discrimination, various forms of institutional racism continue unabated. Indeed, part of the argument is that broader political changes particularly associated with the influence of neoliberalism on social policy have exacerbated the problem of institutional racism and redefined and reinforced the link between welfare and criminalization. Indeed, social welfare has come to be informed by the same values and philosophies as criminal justice: deterrence, surveillance, stigma and graduated sanctions or punishments. How might we understand these broader shifts in the public policy environment, to what extent do they reflect and reproduce institutional racism, and how do they bleed into increased criminalization? I endeavour to answer this question through the consideration of two specific sites of social welfare policy – child protection and social housing – and to consider how systemic and institutional forms of racism play out in daily life for Indigenous people and how they interact with criminal justice.
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