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“I look forward to seeing it in print. I think it will make a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate on the tensions and interactions between Aboriginal people and the State…this book is not only going to be very interesting in its own right but will open up several pathways for further research and analysis” — Professor Heather Goodall


The passage of land rights laws in New South Wales in 1983 saw political intrigue, deception and disappointment as well as unprecedented engagement by Aboriginal citizens and their supporters. How could a sympathetic NSW State Government redress the effects of two hundred years of colonisation in the most densely populated state in the Commonwealth? ‘What do we want?‘ was the rallying call for land rights activists. Heidi Norman’s insightful book begins in the late 1970s when Aboriginal people, armed with new skills, framed their land rights demands. The 1978 land rights inquiry and the laws that followed brought Aboriginal people — and the state — into new and different relationships of power. These have been the source 0f ongoing contestation ever since. For NSW Aboriginal people, the laws allowed an unparalleled level of involvement in government, and in governing. It opened up a host of possibilities. Thirty years later, with more than a billion dollars in land assets, a near billion-dollar investment fund, and with more than115 local Aboriginal land councils, the resultant network of land councils is the largest Aboriginal representative body in the country. ‘What do we want?’ reveals the challenges of Aboriginal people adjusting to modernity as land councils struggle to fully realise the hopes of their members, many of whom continue to suffer chronic disadvantage.


‘What do we want?’ is scheduled for release on 1st May 2015.

Book launch will be taking place on Tuesday 5th May, where Heidi will be joined leading academics Professors Gillian Cowlishaw and Tim Rowse, in a panel chaired by Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO, Nathan Moran. The panel will discuss the lands rights movement and its ramifications. 
For more information and to book, please follow this link! 


Dr Heidi Norman is a Senior Lecturer in the Communications Program in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) at the University of Technology, Sydney. Her research focuses on NSW Aboriginal history and politics with particular emphasis on the modernising effects of rule, shared history and the challenges of Aboriginal adjustment to modernity. She teaches in the areas of applied research and Australian history and politics. She is a descendant of the Gomeroi people of north-western NSW.