He argued that Aboriginal remote community conditions are dire and that government policies (including self-management in the 1970s, the equal pay decisions, granting of land rights and access to 'sit-down money', the homelands movement
, bilingual education, and a plethora of other policies concerning health and community development employment projects) have led to no discernible improvement in living conditions; and that the bureaucracy dealing with Indigenous issues, as well as anthropologists, has resisted acknowledging the brutal realities of daily life in those communities.
Referring to their origins in the homelands movement of the 1970s, in which there was an exodus from missions and government settlements back to 'country', Nicolas Peterson characterized them as an example of 'Indigenous life projects'.
Their movement to other places would recreate precisely the kinds of communities (like Yirrkala) that they had sought to move away from in the first place when the homelands movement began.
In north-east Arnhem Land the homelands movement got off the ground in the early 1970s because people were tired of living away from their country.
chairman) 1987 Return to Country: The Aboriginal Homelands Movement
in Australia, report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, March, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.