Contract gangs: race, gender and vulnerability

Main Article Content

Heather Goodall


While violence directed at Indian students in Australian cities has been highlighted in the Indian and Australian press, far less attention has been paid to the violence directed at Indians in rural areas. This has most often involved Indians employed in contract labour in seasonal industries like fruit or vegetable picking. This article reviews various media accounts, both urban and rural, of violence directed at Indians from 2009 to 2012. It draws attention to the far longer history of labour exploitation which has taken place in rural and urban Australia in contract labour conditions and the particular invisibility of rural settings for such violence. Racial minorities, like Aboriginal and Chinese workers, and women in agriculture and domestic work, have seldom had adequate power to respond industrially or politically. This means that in the past, these groups been particularly vulnerable to such structural exploitation. The paper concludes by calling for greater attention not only to the particular vulnerability of Indians in rural settings but to the wider presence of racialised and gendered exploitation enabled by contract labour structures.

Article Details

Articles (refereed)
Author Biography

Heather Goodall, University of Technology Sydney

Heather Goodall is Adjunct Professor of History, Faculty of Arts and Social Science at the University of Technology Sydney.


Heather Goodall: Invasion to Embassy: Land in Aboriginal Politics in NSW, 1770-1972, Allen and Unwin Press, 1996, Sydney University Press, 2008.
Eric Rolls: Sojourners and Citizens, University of Queensland Press, 1992 and 1998.
The Australian 2010
The Sydney Morning Herald 2010
The Sun Herald, 2010
ABC Radio News, 2010.