Obliged to be Difficult

Nugget Coombs' Legacy in Indigenous Affairs

Obliged to be Difficult

Since the 1967 constitutional referendum, Australian governments have moved toward policies of Indigenous self-determination. Obliged to Be Difficult presents the central issue of self-determination as seen by Dr. H. C. Coombs, the most influential policy maker after the referendum: through what political mechanisms will Indigenous Australians find their own voice? This narrative of Coombs' work draws on many unpublished sources and illuminates the interplay of government policy with Indigenous practice. This book is both an account of government policies and a biographical slice of an outstanding Australian.


"Rowse has provided a definitive and accomplished account of Nugget Coombs' public persona." John Lea

'… for those who want to understand how negotiations evolved between indigenous groups and successive Australian governments, or who want to draw useful comparisons with other such interactions, this volume offers real insights into the complexities of the process. It also paints a fine biographic portrait of an extraordinary man.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute