Courageous Listening, Responsibility for the Other and the Northern Territory Intervention

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Public debate about reconciliation in Australia has been polarized by a distinction between the symbolic and the practical. Challenging this false dichotomy, this paper explores courageous listening as a practice that entails both responsiveness and creative action. Although listening can function as a way of responding to the other and expanding the possibility for shared action; it is nonetheless not inherently open or transformative. Indeed, public debate about the Australian federal government's Northern Territory Intervention is examined as a case study that manifests communicative practices which preserve, rather than transform, established hierarchies of attention. The terms of this debate also, however, contain listening practices grounded in the ideal of responsiveness.


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