Decolonise This Space
Photo of author, Suzi Hutchings


Royal Commission
Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
Indigenous Australians
Indigenous Knowledges theory
therapy, cross-cultural

How to Cite

Hutchings, S. (2021). Decolonise This Space. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 21(3).


The 15 th April 2016 marked the 25-year anniversary since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) in Australia handed down its Final Report. The report signified a landmark in the relationships between Indigenous Australians and the post-colonial State and Federal governments. Established by the Hawke Labor Government in 1987, the Commission examined 99 Indigenous deaths. Most significant was the finding that the deaths were due to the combination of police and prisons failing their duty of care, and the high numbers of Indigenous people being arrested and incarcerated.

In the wake of the RCIADIC, cross-cultural sessions and cultural competency workshops have become ubiquitous for public servants, therapists, and legal and welfare employees, in attempts to bridge gaps in cultural knowledge between agents of the welfare state and Indigenous clients. Using Indigenous Knowledges theory, this chapter assesses how cultural misalignments between Indigenous clients and those who work with them in the name of therapies designed to improve Indigenous lives, dominate cross-cultural interactions. In so doing the questions are posed: how do good intentions become part of the discourses and practices of on-going colonialism for Indigenous Australians, and what can be done to change the balance of power in favour of therapies of relevance to Indigenous people?

Copyright (c) 2021 Suzi Hutchings

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