Outstation (Aboriginal community)

social movement in the Aboriginal Australian community
(Redirected from Outstation movement)

In Australia, the outstation movement is the movement of Australian Aboriginal people from large towns to much smaller communities, called outstations. It is mostly seen in the Northern Territory and amongst the people of the Western Desert.

Before the 20th century, most Aboriginal families lived by themselves or in groups of 20–30 people. They were nomadic (moving from place to place), hunting and foraging across the deserts. As Euro-Australians started to build roads, towns and farms on Aboriginal lands, the native people were forced out. They had to move off their lands into towns or missions. There, the government would give them food, water and clothes.

This way of life did not suit them. In the towns, there were many conflicts between different ethnic groups, people became addicted to alcohol, and many of them died from foreign diseases. Many groups were also far away from their traditional homelands, which were important to them and their spirituality. From the 1970s, many families started to move away from the towns. They returned to the places they grew up, and set up smaller communities.[1]

One of the main reasons behind the movement is for Aboriginal people to get back autonomy and self-sufficiency. The communities manage themselves, as nomadic groups (or "tribe") did many years before. Hunting and foraging – getting their own food, and food for everybody – is still important.[2]


  1. Morice, R.D. (18 December 1976). "Woman dancing dreaming: Psychosocial benefits of the Aboriginal outstation movement". Medical Journal of Australia. 2 (25–26): 939–42. doi:10.5694/j.1326-5377.1976.tb115531.x. PMID 1035404. S2CID 28327004. Archived from the original on 5 January 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  2. Myers, Fred (November 1988). "Locating ethnographic practice: Romance, reality and politics in the Outback". American Ethnologist. 15 (4): 619. doi:10.1525/ae.1988.15.4.02a00010. JSTOR 645509. Archived from the original on 2022-05-22. Retrieved 2022-02-24.