The ‘problem’ of the urban drift of Aboriginal people in Australia's Northern Territory

Dean B Carson, Charles Darwin University
Andrew Taylor, Charles Darwin University

This paper looks at a range of views about the increasing urbanisation of (particularly young male) Aboriginal people in Australia’s Northern Territory. It raises questions about what motivates rural-to-urban migration among this group, and what the policy responses might be. Governments are concerned about anti-social behaviour and cultural friction associated with increasing urbanisation, but our research suggests that these unwelcome consequences are less important than the benefits for health, education, employment and cultural practice. The traditional rural-to-urban models which emphasise economic motives only partially explain urbanisation of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. Non-economic activity such as culture and recreation continue to be significant drivers of migration among Aboriginal people. The paper considers how these factors may be better incorporated in rural-to-urban migration models. Data is extracted from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and case studies of five remote communities in the Northern Territory.

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Presented in Session 176: The root causes of internal migration: Are they primarily economic? (2)