Monash University

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A holistic perspective on the environment : recognising people and the land

posted on 2022-04-09, 13:36 authored by O'Dowd, Mary F. Mary Frances).

This article puts the case that it is impossible to understand our conception and treatment of the land in Australia without considering what we did to the Indigenous people. The article provides an overview of this treatment to Indigenous people, and how the legacies continue to this day and dull our conscience. The central case is that Indigenous resistance and our war on Indigenous people, while erased from Australian history until the 1960s, were written into a symbolic war on the land and a construction of the land as harsh. It explores the implications of the pioneer ‘battle with an inhospitable and harsh land. This battle, it argues, was as a metaphor for our war with the Indigenous people, a metaphor that has never been exposed. This view of the land as harsh facilitated the expropriation of Indigenous people's land and assisted in institutionalising the lie terra nullius. The legacy, to not acknowledging the real war, is an inappropriate view of the land as harsh, and a failure to recognise that our treatment and perception of the land are linked to our relationship with the Indigenous people. Therefore land needs greater attention in the reconciliation process.

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Principal supervisor

Frank Fisher

Additional supervisor 1

Liz Reed

Additional supervisor 2

Kate Rigby

Additional supervisor 3

Dave Mercer

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Graduate School of Geography and Environmental Science


Master of Environmental Science

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts

File Name