David Martin

Dr David Martin is an independent applied anthropologist, working through Anthropos Consulting, as well as being a visiting scholar at the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at The Australian National University. He was previously a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), and for a decade prior to that a Research Fellow there. His research and applied interests are focused on Aboriginal Australia, and include welfare reform, alcohol issues, economic and community development, native title, and governance. He has provided policy advice on settling native title claims and undertaken reviews of connection reports for Native Title Representative Bodies as well as for government agencies in Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria. He has also researched at the CAEPR on the capacity of mining agreements to deliver sustainable development outcomes for Aboriginal people, and more generally has undertaken extensive research and applied work on Aboriginal governance issues, including those relating to Prescribed Bodies Corporate and mining agreement-related trusts and corporations.

David Martin has considerable experience in delivering professional development courses for public servants, lawyers, anthropologists, mining company employees, and Aboriginal organisations. He is actively involved in outreach for the profession of anthropology, having served until recently for several years on the Executive of the Australian Anthropological Society, and has been involved in mentoring anthropologists in Aboriginal organizations and government agencies. He is a forceful advocate for the practice of an ‘engaged anthropology’ which is not just concerned with academic critique and analysis, but is actively involved in development and other contemporary issues.

Power, Culture, Economy »

Indigenous Australians and Mining

Publication date: August 2009
Research over the past decade in health, employment, life expectancy, child mortality, and household income has confirmed that Indigenous Australians are still Australia’s most disadvantaged group. Those residing in communities in regional and remote Australia are further disadvantaged because of the limited formal economic opportunities there. In these areas mining developments may be the major—and sometimes the only—contributors to regional economic development. However Indigenous communities have gained only relatively limited long-term economic development benefits from mining activity on land that they own or over which they have property rights of varying significance. Furthermore, while Indigenous people may place high value on realising particular non-economic benefits from mining agreements, there may be only limited capacity to deliver such benefits. This collection of papers focuses on three large, ongoing mining operations in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory under two statutory regimes—the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 and the Native Title Act 1993. The authors outline the institutional basis to greater industry involvement while describing and analysing the best practice principles that can be utilised both by companies and Indigenous community organisations. The research addresses questions such as: What factors underlie successful investment in community relations and associated agreement governance and benefit packages for Indigenous communities? How are economic and non-economic flows monitored? What are the values and aspirations which Indigenous people may bring to bear in their engagement with mining developments? What more should companies and government do to develop the capacity and sustainability of local Indigenous organisations? What mining company strategies build community capacity to deal with impacts of mining? Are these adequate? How to prepare for sustainable futures for Indigenous Australians after mine closure? This research was conducted under an Australian Research Council Linkage Project, with Rio Tinto and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia as Industry Partners.

Making Sense of the Census »

Observations of the 2001 Enumeration in Remote Aboriginal Australia

Publication date: March 2004
Special enumeration procedures for Indigenous Australians were introduced in the 1971 Census, and have been a feature of the Australian national census ever since. In 2001, as in previous years, the Indigenous Enumeration Strategy (IES) involved the use of locally recruited, mostly Indigenous, interviewers and the administration of modified forms. This monograph presents the results of the first detailed comparative appraisal of the IES. Three CAEPR researchers observed the 2001 Census enumeration, each in a different remote-area context: Martin at Aurukun, a major Aboriginal township on Cape York Peninsula, Morphy at a small outstation community in the Northern Territory, and Sanders in the town camps of Alice Springs. The Australian Bureau of Statistics facilitated the research by granting the researchers status as official observers. The introductory chapter by John Taylor gives a brief history of the IES and sets the context for the research. The three case-studies form the central chapters, and are followed by a concluding chapter that summarises the findings and recommendations. While each locality had its unique characteristics, the authors found some common problems across the board which lead to general recommendations about the future design of the IES. They advocate a simplification of the enumeration procedure, the abandonment of the ‘two-form’ structure, the focusing of the IES more narrowly on people in ‘traditionally-oriented’ discrete Indigenous communities, and substantial changes in the design and content of any new ‘special Indigenous’ census form.