The representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is usually viewed in terms of the disproportionately low numbers elected to state, territory, and federal parliaments. Local governments are regularly absent from this discussion despite there being credible suggestions that they present a viable representative option for Indigenous people due to the nature of their localised governance and the underlying principle that Indigenous people may only make decisions over their country (Queensland Parliament, 2003).
In this seminar, that theory will be tested by examining the effect Indigenous representation has on relationships between local governments and Indigenous institutions. To do so, a comparative case study focusing on local governments and Traditional Owner communities in the Redlands and the Torres Straits has been conducted. It was found that there are notably significant barriers for Indigenous candidates, numerous challenges for Indigenous councillors representing their communities in local governments, and nuances to how "Indigenous representation' should be understood.
Based on the findings, it is argued that the unique and distinct institutions which underpin Indigenous decision-making are being disregarded by the Queensland Government's "one size fits all' approach to local government which risks further marginalising Indigenous people, in particularly Traditional Owners whose homelands are directly and regularly impacted by council decisions.