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Models of policy development in Aboriginal education: issues and discourse.

The education of Aboriginal children in Australia Australia (ôstrāl`yə), smallest continent, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. With the island state of Tasmania to the south, the continent makes up the Commonwealth of Australia, a federal parliamentary state (2005 est. pop.  has been extensively examined and reviewed. Missing from this investigative activity, however, is the attempt to critically conceptualise v. t. 1. same as conceptualize.

Verb 1. conceptualise - have the idea for; "He conceived of a robot that would help paralyzed patients"; "This library was well conceived"
conceive, conceptualize, gestate
 the current approaches to the delivery of education for this highly disadvantaged This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims.

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 group. There are two main aims behind this paper. Firstly, it devises a framework of seven discrete models of Aboriginal education to guide policy and practice. Secondly, the paper investigates the extent to which the official discourse reflects an understanding of these models. Finally, some thought is given to implications for government flowing from an understanding of the models, especially in the areas of improving policy development and official review.


Aboriginal education

policy formulation formulation /for·mu·la·tion/ (for?mu-la´shun) the act or product of formulating.

American Law Institute Formulation

Aboriginal students

Aboriginal history

policy analysis race

Models of policy development in Aboriginal education

In the past two decades there has been a multiplicity mul·ti·plic·i·ty  
n. pl. mul·ti·plic·i·ties
1. The state of being various or manifold: the multiplicity of architectural styles on that street.

 of approaches to and policies for the education of Indigenous young people as the nation has tried to grapple with to enter into contest with, resolutely and courageously.

See also: Grapple
 the gap in educational opportunities and outcomes for this group. Absent from both the official and academic literature on Indigenous education has been an attempt to draw together these approaches and polices into models of Indigenous education. This effort is necessary to facilitate a more critical understanding of the educational needs of this group of highly disadvantaged students and the adequacy of official responses to the efforts to improve outcomes. A key aim of the paper has been to develop relevant models in Indigenous education for use by schools and policy makers.

The need for the identification of such models is highlighted by the limited official discourse in Indigenous education as reflected in government reports and inquiries. Therefore, a second key aim of the paper is to investigate this discourse over the past five years for the purpose of examining the extent to which this reflects an understanding of the models devised. Reviews into Aboriginal education in this time frame have been undertaken by almost every state and the senate has conducted a detailed investigation. In addition, the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST DEST Destination
DEST Destroy
DEST Department of Education, Science and Training (Australia)
DEST Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories (Australia) 
) has issued two extensive reports to the national Parliament into Aboriginal Education as part of its statutory requirements and sponsored several research projects of aspects of Indigenous education. This body of investigation amounts to well over 800 pages of information and constitutes an official discourse encompassing policy makers and interested politicians on the problems, performance, and future directions in this area.

Table 1 below identifies the types of reports in Aboriginal education and the purpose for which they were commissioned. As can be seen in the table, the variety of purposes behind the reports means that while there is an overlapping of issues discussed there is no consistency in examining approaches to this group.

Seven discrete program delivery models can be identified out of current practice in Aboriginal education: the social justice model; the community development model; the enhanced coordination model; the elitest model; the cultural recognition model; the school responsiveness model; and the compensatory skills model.

These models were devised through a critical understanding of the literature in Indigenous education (for a summary of this literature see Beresford and Partington Partington can refer to a number of places and people: Places
  • Partington - a village in Greater Manchester.
  • J. R. Partington - the British chemist and historian of chemistry.
  • Jonathan Partington - the British mathematician.
, 2003) and through an interaction between this literature and extensive research undertaken by the authors in the area (Beresford, 2001, 2004; Beresford & Partington, 2003; Gray & Beresford, 2001, 2002; Gray, 2000; Gray & Partington, 2003; Partington & Gray, 2003).

Each of the identified models has been examined in terms of capacity to systematise Verb 1. systematise - arrange according to a system or reduce to a system; "systematize our scientific knowledge"
systematize, systemise, systemize

order - bring order to or into; "Order these files"
 the model; critical perspective on the discourse surrounding sur·round  
tr.v. sur·round·ed, sur·round·ing, sur·rounds
1. To extend on all sides of simultaneously; encircle.

2. To enclose or confine on all sides so as to bar escape or outside communication.

 each model; and effectiveness of each model to deliver outcomes for Indigenous students (see Table 2 below).

Our contention is that while each of the identified models is discrete, they are not mutually exclusive Adj. 1. mutually exclusive - unable to be both true at the same time

incompatible - not compatible; "incompatible personalities"; "incompatible colors"
; each can, and should, coexist co·ex·ist  
intr.v. co·ex·ist·ed, co·ex·ist·ing, co·ex·ists
1. To exist together, at the same time, or in the same place.

 with a range of other models. All models, however, are not necessarily equally effective. Table 2 summarises the various models and the current discourse surrounding them. Each is discussed in more detail below.

The social justice model

A social justice model of Aboriginal education refers to the need to address structural disadvantages acting to impede im·pede  
tr.v. im·ped·ed, im·ped·ing, im·pedes
To retard or obstruct the progress of. See Synonyms at hinder1.

[Latin imped
 the progression of students at school. It draws upon a range of complementary theoretical perspectives including the relationship between education and social differentiation (Welch Welch , William Henry 1850-1934.

American pathologist and bacteriologist who discovered the bacteria that causes gas gangrene.
, 1996) and the over-representation of Aborigines aborigines: see Australian aborigines.  as an underclass in Australian Australian

pertaining to or originating in Australia.

Australian bat lyssavirus disease
see Australian bat lyssavirus disease.

Australian cattle dog
a medium-sized, compact working dog used for control of cattle.
 society. The latter is especially prevalent among urban Aboriginal youth (Beresford & Omaji, 1996). The theoretical base of the social justice model is further exemplified by the application of parallel theories of resistance and alienation alienation, in property laws: see tenure.

In the social sciences context, the state of feeling estranged or separated from one's milieu, work, products of work, or self.
; that is, because of their marginalised status in Australian society, Aboriginal youth have, for generations, felt that education is 'white fellas' business and consequently actively and/or and/or  
Used to indicate that either or both of the items connected by it are involved.

Usage Note: And/or is widely used in legal and business writing.
 passively resist participation in its processes (Beresford & Partington, 2003).

The relevance of a social justice perspective to Aboriginal education needs little reminder. Various studies have highlighted that Aboriginal people experience lower incomes, higher rates of unemployment, lower rates of homeownership and more overcrowded o·ver·crowd  
v. o·ver·crowd·ed, o·ver·crowd·ing, o·ver·crowds
To cause to be excessively crowded: a system of consolidation that only overcrowded the classrooms.
 living conditions living conditions nplcondiciones fpl de vida

living conditions nplconditions fpl de vie

living conditions living
 than do non-Aboriginal people (see Gordon Gordon, river in W Tasmania, Australia, 125 mi (200 km) long. Flowing from mountains to the W coast, its main tributaries are the Franklin and Denison from the N, and Serpentine and Olga to the S. , 2002).

It is significant that the official discourse on Aboriginal education acknowledges the importance of a social justice approach but it is unable to develop a framework to articulate articulate /ar·tic·u·late/ (ahr-tik´u-lat)
1. to pronounce clearly and distinctly.

2. to make speech sounds by manipulation of the vocal organs.

3. to express in coherent verbal form.

 either (a) the complex causes of Aboriginal socioeconomic so·ci·o·ec·o·nom·ic  
Of or involving both social and economic factors.


of or involving economic and social factors

Adj. 1.
 disadvantage, (b) its links to Aboriginal youth alienation, (c) the range of school-based programs needed to alleviate Alleviate
To make something easier to be endured.

Mentioned in: Kinesiology, Applied
 its impacts on Aboriginal young people, or (d) the links between school-based and wider community programs.

Perhaps the most comprehensive understanding could be expected from the senate inquiry, given its task in overseeing the area. While it did canvass a wide range of social factors impeding im·pede  
tr.v. im·ped·ed, im·ped·ing, im·pedes
To retard or obstruct the progress of. See Synonyms at hinder1.

[Latin imped
 education--most of which are already widely known--it offered only the briefest comment on the importance of developing strategies to deal with underlying disadvantage. The report noted that 'little progress will be made until solutions are found to wider community problems that affect education' (Senate Employment, Workplace Relations, Small Business and Educational References Committee, 2000, p. 44). No attempt was made, however, to evaluate current policy approaches to disadvantage or to articulate directions in which policy should proceed.

That current polices are not effective was acknowledged in the national framework for Indigenous youth (Department of Education, Science & Training, 2004b), which stated that the current inequity in education and employment 'shows that existing support structures and programs are often not providing the impetus Impetus is a stimulus or impulse, a moving force that sparks momentum.

Impetus may also refer to:
  • Theory of impetus, an obsolete scientific theory on projectile motion, superseded by the modern theory of inertia
 for substantial and sustained improvements'. Six brief and general explanations were offered concerning lack of information, cultural appropriateness and coordination. Missing was a detailed explanation of which programs were failing and why.

Investigations initiated by state education departments paid little attention to the social justice model. The review of Aboriginal education conducted by the Queensland Queensland, state (1991 pop. 2,477,152), 667,000 sq mi (1,727,200 sq km), NE Australia. Brisbane is the capital; other important cities are Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Townsville, Rockhampton, Cairns, and Ipswich.  Education Department sought firstly to marginalise Verb 1. marginalise - relegate to a lower or outer edge, as of specific groups of people; "We must not marginalize the poor in our society"

interact - act together or towards others or with others; "He should interact more with his colleagues"
 the utility of the model and secondly to reconceptualise it within the department's own preferred community development model. While noting that 'it is tempting for teachers, who, in the main, are people of goodwill, to try to deal with the many social issues that affect students, such practices tend to shift the focus of schools from education and "enabling" to welfare provision'. This task, the department's report further asserted, was 'rightly the province of other agencies' (Senate Employment, Workplace Relations, Small Business and Educational References Committee, 2000, p. 7). Moreover, these agencies are likely to be far more effective in their task by linking with industry and education to help families and communities escape poverty and welfare traps The welfare trap theory asserts that taxation and welfare systems can jointly contribute to keep people on social insurance. This is also known as the unemployment trap or poverty trap in the UK. .

Government-funded Aboriginal education research projects touched on poverty, poor nutrition and other health issues (see Bourke, Rigby & Burden, 2000) but only in a limited context of the search for current best practice. Thus, several schools can be identified which provide breakfast and lunch programs, a bus pick-up for students, the appointment school/community health workers and the integration of health into the curriculum.

A long-standing component of the social justice model has been the availability of the Aboriginal and Tortes Strait strait (strat) a narrow passage.

straits of pelvis  the pelvic inlet(superior pelvic s.) and pelvic outlet(inferior pelvic s.) .

 Islander Study Assistance Scheme (ABSTUDY) for secondary students. This form of direct financial support to families was introduced in 1969 but no publicly available review has been undertaken since 1976. The Commonwealth government commissioned a review into ABSTUDY in 1998 as part of cutting funding to the program but the report remains confidential (NTEU NTEU National Tertiary Education Union (Australia)
NTEU National Treasury Employees Union
NTEU Non-Teaching Employees Union (Philippines) 
, 2003).The silence of all major reports and reviews on the operation of ABSTUDY is a major failing of the official discourse.

An altogether separate strand Strand, street in London, England, roughly parallel with the Thames River, running from the Temple to Trafalgar Square. It is a street of law courts, hotels, theaters, and office buildings and is the main artery between the City and the West End.

 of the justice model relates to the ongoing impact of dispossession The wrongful, nonconsensual ouster or removal of a person from his or her property by trick, compulsion, or misuse of the law, whereby the violator obtains actual occupation of the land. Dispossession encompasses intrusion, disseisin, or deforcement.  and racial policies on Aboriginal communities, otherwise identified as transgenerational disadvantage and trauma (Beresford, forthcoming). Policies such as forced removal of children from families, segregation segregation: see apartheid; integration.  onto reserves, exclusion from state schools and limited access to mainstream employment have had profound intergenerational in·ter·gen·er·a·tion·al  
Being or occurring between generations: "These social-insurance programs are intergenerational and all
 effects. Such policies have often impeded im·pede  
tr.v. im·ped·ed, im·ped·ing, im·pedes
To retard or obstruct the progress of. See Synonyms at hinder1.

[Latin imped
 the process of parenting and socialisation of Aboriginal children across the generations. In recent years, there has been growing understanding of transgenerational disadvantage and trauma in both academic and official reports (Beresford & Omaji, 1996, 1998; Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission, 1997; Tatz, 1999) yet there is very limited acknowledgment acknowledgment, in law, formal declaration or admission by a person who executed an instrument (e.g., a will or a deed) that the instrument is his. The acknowledgment is made before a court, a notary public, or any other authorized person.  in the official Aboriginal educational discourse about the extent of these problems (Beresford & Partington, 2003). The closest any of the reviews comes to an examination of this issue is found in the Queensland education department's review, which states that:
   Past policies of segregation, protection and assimilation formed
   the context for the relationship of Aboriginal and Tortes Strait
   Islander Peoples to school to develop. Schools and the churches
   were institutions for the assimilation of Aboriginal and Torres
   Strait Islander Peoples and, as a result, the relationship was
   troubled from both sides (Education Queensland, 2000, p. 13).

The report, however, does not attempt to apply the concept of intergenerational disadvantage--which is raised in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity report into the stolen generations--to the current educational experiences of Aboriginal children and families How many have an inherited inherited

received by inheritance.

inherited achondroplastic dwarfism
see achondroplastic dwarfism.

inherited combined immunodeficiency
see combined immune deficiency syndrome (disease).
 notion of schools as hostile places for Aboriginal people? To what extent do Aboriginal communities still harbour suspicions about the underlying intentions of school? The Education Queensland report briefly acknowledged that this is an ongoing issue of real importance: 'A minority of schools have been successful in increasing the participation of Aboriginal and Tortes Strait Islander parents in school life, but most Education Queensland staff report that this is difficult' (2000, p. 13).

An additional element of a social justice model of Aboriginal education needs to take account of the over-representation of Aboriginal youth in the criminal justice systems of each state, and the role of schools in both preventing anti-social behaviour among this group and responding to the needs of those Aboriginal young people forced to return to school under various community program orders. The official discourse is silent on this important area.

There are several points to be drawn down from the above discussion. The social justice model, while having strong theoretical foundations, is poorly represented in the official discourse about Aboriginal education. There is little attempt to examine the social justice model with the context of broader government policy in Aboriginal affairs, or the intergenerational impacts, despite compelling arguments for doing so. Moreover, there is a poorly conceptualised view of both the role and operation of education-specific social justice approaches. Thus, the links between social justice and Aboriginal education appears to have reached a policy impasse im·passe  
1. A road or passage having no exit; a cul-de-sac.

2. A situation that is so difficult that no progress can be made; a deadlock or a stalemate: reached an impasse in the negotiations.

The community development model

There is an emerging consensus among those investigating Aboriginal education (and also among a number of people interviewed) that partnerships with the community are crucial to effecting improvements. This model contains two main components: the need for partnerships between schools and Aboriginal communities and the need for schools to link with the broader community to develop solutions tailored to local circumstances CIRCUMSTANCES, evidence. The particulars which accompany a fact.
     2. The facts proved are either possible or impossible, ordinary and probable, or extraordinary and improbable, recent or ancient; they may have happened near us, or afar off; they are public or

While all states operate programs to link schools with Aboriginal communities, Education Queensland has gone further than any other state education department in articulating the wider community dimension of partnerships:
   The challenge is to ensure that an effective framework exists that
   enables local communities to work with schools, community agencies
   and State government agencies locally. While interagency approaches
   are already apparent in some areas, these are often developed
   without input from the community ... The local community is
   supported by agencies to become involved in and take responsibility
   for the services used by that community. In the process, community
   members are empowered to participate in building community
   infrastructure and community capacity. Such approaches allow social
   institutions, industry and education to play a role in helping
   families and communities to escape poverty and welfare traps
   (Education Queensland, 2000, p. 7).

The interest shown by the Queensland government in the application of community development to achieve greater progress in Aboriginal education is based, in part, on the perceived success of the model operating in Cape York Noun 1. Cape York - the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula at the Torres Strait; the northernmost point of the Australian mainland
Australia, Commonwealth of Australia - a nation occupying the whole of the Australian continent; Aboriginal tribes are thought to
. The official discourse, however, takes little account of the theoretical work on community development. Iffe (2002, p. 10) has noted that there has been a growing interest in community-based programs as an alternative mode for the delivery of human services and meeting human need and especially because it is 'consistent with the idea of a 'post-welfare state' system based on principles of sustainability. Yet, as Iffe notes, the terms 'community' and 'community-based' are highly problematic with the potential for both progressive and regressive re·gres·sive
1. Having a tendency to return or to revert.

2. Characterized by regression.

 change. Among the potential problems, Iffe notes the possibility for a reduced commitment by government to welfare, an increased burden on women, and the rise in inequality inequality, in mathematics, statement that a mathematical expression is less than or greater than some other expression; an inequality is not as specific as an equation, but it does contain information about the expressions involved.  based upon the varying capacities of communities. These comments are relevant to the application of community development in Aboriginal education for, as a recent Commonwealth parliamentary inquiry into urban Aboriginal communities found, enhanced coordination
   ... presupposes that the individuals, families and organisations of
   a community have the capacity and inclination to seek solutions to
   problems, take advantage of opportunities and enter into effective
   partnerships with governments. However, not all Indigenous
   communities have that capacity (House of Representatives Standing
   Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, 2001,
   p. 53).

The task of developing relations with Aboriginal communities has been the object for many years of the Aboriginal Student support and Parental Awareness (ASSPA ASSPA Association Suisse pour l'Automatique (Switzerland) ) program which aims to formalise Aboriginal parents in school-decisionmaking through the provision of funds to ASSPA committees, which are chaired by the school principal. In spite of in opposition to all efforts of; in defiance or contempt of; notwithstanding.

See also: Spite
 this, the critical comments made in the Northern Territory Education Department's Independent Review of Indigenous Education (Collins, 1999) and elsewhere about the operation of ASSPA committees demonstrate the difficulty schools sometimes have in operating in a community development framework. Collins highlighted that some schools use ASSPA funds 'as an opportunistic opportunistic /op·por·tu·nis·tic/ (op?er-tldbomacn-is´tik)
1. denoting a microorganism which does not ordinarily cause disease but becomes pathogenic under certain circumstances.

 means of accessing Commonwealth funds', with little involvement of Aboriginal committee members, while in some communities schools struggled to attract sufficient Aboriginal parents to such committee work: 'Parents may not have much experience with administrations or comfort with formal meeting procedures, and others are just too busy to meet all the demands for volunteer effort that committee membership entails' (Collins, 1999, p. 166).Thus, there is a clear signal in the official discourse that more needs to be done to prepare schools and staff to work in this model.

Enhanced coordination model

The need to improve coordination between government and non-government services and schools has been widely recognised as a major challenge facing Aboriginal education. In 2000, the Ministerial Done under the direction of a supervisor; not involving discretion or policymaking.

Ministerial describes an act or a function that conforms to an instruction or a prescribed procedure. It connotes obedience.
 Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA MCEETYA Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (Council of Australian Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers) ) put the case emphatically em·phat·ic  
1. Expressed or performed with emphasis: responded with an emphatic "no."

2. Forceful and definite in expression or action.

 for a community development model in Indigenous education:
   The lack of an integrated long-term plan for the provision of
   cross-portfolio services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait
   Islander community at urban, rural, and remote levels has resulted
   in services not being provided in a cohesive manner. There is a
   close relationship between low levels of educational outcomes and
   issues in other portfolio areas such as poor health, overcrowded
   housing and poor access to government services and infrastructure
   ... Any improvement in these other portfolio areas is likely to
   generate better educational outcomes (MCEETYA, 2000, p. 51).

The basis of this model lies in the policy theory that modern governments 'are networks of loosely linked organisations rather than a single hierarchy to command and control' (Bridgeman & Davis, 2004, p. 94). Departments have their own goals, statutory responsibilities and organisational cultures; nevertheless, governments require overarching o·ver·arch·ing  
1. Forming an arch overhead or above: overarching branches.

2. Extending over or throughout: "I am not sure whether the missing ingredient . . .
 policy frameworks as the needs of most target groups straddle In the stock and commodity markets, a strategy in options contracts consisting of an equal number of put options and call options on the same underlying share, index, or commodity future.  the artificial divisions of government departmental structures.

The Ministerial Council developed a 'partnership cube' as a published model for better coordination. This aimed to focus on developing stronger partnerships between government, communities and education systems to overcome the deficiencies in the delivery of cohesive cohesive,
n the capability to cohere or stick together to form a mass.
 services to Aboriginal communities both urban and remote. Better coordination was a central focus in the implementation of the National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy numeracy Mathematical literacy Neurology The ability to understand mathematical concepts, perform calculations and interpret and use statistical information. Cf Acalculia.  Strategy, the Howard Government's major initiative in Aboriginal education. Released in 2000, implementation of the strategy was identified as requiring 'a cooperative effort between the Commonwealth, states and territories, as well as non-government education providers and Indigenous communities, families and parents' (DEST, 2004).

Despite these efforts, problems in coordination persist. Gray and Beresford (2002) in a study of Aboriginal education in Perth found poor coordination to be one of the major obstacles facing government and non-government agencies trying to meet the needs of Aboriginal youth.

More specifically, the official discourse on Aboriginal education contains no reference to the work undertaken by MCEETYA and especially the extent to which the partnership framework is being applied, the achievements it may be producing and problems being encountered has not been the focus of investigation. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently
, the need for coordination is being regularly invoked, but little effort is being made to study its development on the ground.

There are likely to be substantial problems in effecting improved coordination in Aboriginal education. Even though MCEETYA produced a compelling case for better coordination and a well-articulated framework to develop improved linkages between services, it failed to fully articulate the problems highlighted in studies that frequently bedevil efforts at coordination throughout government activity. These are summed up by Bridgeman and Davis:
   The complexity and scale of government, and the need for
   specialisation, make it impossible for any one person--or even a
   committee such as cabinet--to keep all the relevant variables in
   play. The considerable costs of perfectly meshing policies and
   programs can outweigh the benefits. Coordination may be necessary,
   but it is an ideal that can be realised only with many compromises
   (2004, p 93).

Such critical insights need to be more rigorously applied to the process of investigation and evaluation of Aboriginal education.

Cultural recognition model

The need for Aboriginal students to have access to their own language, learning styles and cultural identity has long been regarded as essential to improving their educational outcomes. In turn, this understanding is based on interactionist theory, which holds that through language and symbols people develop a shared meaning about the world (Beresford & Partington, 2003).

The official discourse on Aboriginal education has a strong focus on this issue. The senate review went to the heart of the matter: 'The central curriculum issue in Aboriginal education over the past decade has been how to provide a curriculum that is both academically rigorous and culturally relevant to Indigenous peoples'. The Review further noted the benefits of addressing this core issue: 'Teaching a culturally appropriate curriculum, which recognises and builds upon the cultural and linguistic background of Aboriginal students, could also aid learning across the curriculum. 'The review concluded, however, that 'many teachers and curricula have still not moved far in these directions' (Senate Employment, Workplace Relations, Small Business and Educational References Committee, 2000, pp. 60-74).

The Queensland education department's review of Aboriginal education is scathing about lack of progress in cultural recognition. This review found that there is little acknowledgment of or support for cross-cultural pedagogy; that teachers lack cultural awareness; that the distribution of education advisers is inequitable and that some of these advisers have questionable knowledge; and that teachers' pre-service education in cross-cultural pedagogy is inadequate (Education Queensland. 2000).

Similar criticisms were made by the Independent review of Indigenous education in the Northern Territory (Collins, 1999). Collins began his investigations at the very time the Territory government announced a phasing out of funding for bilingual education bilingual education, the sanctioned use of more than one language in U.S. education. The Bilingual Education Act (1968), combined with a Supreme Court decision (1974) mandating help for students with limited English proficiency, requires instruction in the native  programs. In his report, Collins argued strongly for the retention of the program on the basis of 'its value in reinforcing and strengthening Aboriginal identity in all its forms'. He went on to say that Aboriginal parents, teachers, and students 'all put to the review the importance of English acquisition, but not at the expense of their own culture and language' (1999, p. 120).

Thus, while strong on articulating the problems of cross-cultural education, the official discourse represented in the reviews of Aboriginal education contains no comprehensive new policy thinking or directions on this issue. Collins makes the strongest statement in his endorsement for the adoption of two-way learning in schools where the local community wants such a program; yet, the support and resources needed to implement such a policy are not clearly identified. Further ignored are the tensions between the adoption of new policy and the shift in education systems towards outcomes-based learning. Outcomes-based learning has the potential to undermine alternative approaches that are deemed less capable of achieving the required 'outcomes'.

School responsiveness model

The importance of developing positive relationships between Aboriginal students and schools hardly needs much elaboration. The Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia's study of the forty-six Aboriginal students in that state who completed the Certificate of Education in 1999 found that the extremely low figure highlighted the crisis factor in Aboriginal education and confirmed that support from school was crucial to success.

The significant challenges schools face in responding to the needs of Indigenous and minority youth has attracted the attention of researchers for several decades. Ogbu (1978) questioned the capacity of schools in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  to respond to the reform agendas of governments to improve minority education. He claimed that implementation of compensatory programs was impeded by inadequate understanding of the problems of minority failure in education, lack of clear goals and strategies and lack of prior preparation of local school officials. Similar problems have been noted by the reviews under discussion. The 2002 New South Wales New South Wales, state (1991 pop. 5,164,549), 309,443 sq mi (801,457 sq km), SE Australia. It is bounded on the E by the Pacific Ocean. Sydney is the capital. The other principal urban centers are Newcastle, Wagga Wagga, Lismore, Wollongong, and Broken Hill.  Public Education Inquiry (p. 21) argued that the strategic problem 'is how to change the social relations around teaching and learning within mainstream schooling to engage Aboriginal students, strengthen their identity and increase their level of success) The inquiry noted that three factors were crucial to the ability of schools to engage in change to meet to help improve outcomes for Aboriginal people: a committed principal, well trained Aboriginal education workers, and adapting schools to the needs of Aboriginal learners. Broadly similar findings were made in the Northern Territory report.

These findings may well have every appearance of rationality, but do they go far enough in highlighting the challenges facing schools? The Senate inquiry into Aboriginal education stated that there are deeper forces at work. 'Although education systems no longer take a deliberately oppressive role,' the report noted, 'they retain elements of assimilation Assimilation

The absorption of stock by the public from a new issue.

Underwriters hope to sell all of a new issue to the public.
See also: Issuer, Underwriting

 and internalised racism that can make them alienating al·ien·ate  
tr.v. al·ien·at·ed, al·ien·at·ing, al·ien·ates
1. To cause to become unfriendly or hostile; estrange: alienate a friend; alienate potential supporters by taking extreme positions.
 environments for many Indigenous people.' (Senate Employment, Workplace Relations, Small Business and Educational References Committee, 2000, p. 61). Despite acknowledging the problem, the report did not include a chapter on schools and the problems they face in addressing the criticisms made.

The aforementioned a·fore·men·tioned  
Mentioned previously.

The one or ones mentioned previously.


mentioned before

Adj. 1.
 study by Gray and Beresford noted teachers' lack of deep awareness of the social and cultural contexts of Aboriginal students' lives; their lack of appreciation of equity in their dealings with these students; and their lack of recognition of Aboriginal culture and preferred learning styles. Of particular significance, the Gray and Beresford note that;
   It is common for children in Years Eleven and Twelve to perceive
   that teachers did not encourage them to take of TEE (West
   Australian Tertiary Entrance Examination) subjects. Many are being
   told it is too difficult for them. Whether or not this was the best
   available advice in individual cases is impossible to tell.
   However, it is important to note that students felt that they were
   being stereo-typed and that they might benefit from positive
   encouragement (Gray & Beresford, 2001, p. 17).

It is relatively clear what a model of school responsiveness needs to take into account: the socioeconomic context of Aboriginal students, the importance of recognising culture, adapting curricular to Aboriginal learning needs, dealing with racism, and meeting the opportunities and the requirements of community participation. These issues are widely represented as key challenges for Indigenous education in all the reports under discussion. Under-represented as an issue in this official discourse is consideration of the inherent difficulties schools experience in developing responsiveness. The clearest acknowledgment of the problem was made in the Education Queensland report, which stated that: 'successful reform is ... dependent upon acknowledging the challenges posed by change ... Educational reform (like other social change) is complicated, so the process must be evolutionary and flexible enough to adapt to unexpected events and local contexts' (Education Queensland, 2000, p. 9).

In can be seen that while the need for school responsiveness is widely acknowledged, there is little consideration of the progress being made at achieving it or the ongoing obstacles being experienced. There is no qualitative or qualitative data on the effectiveness of cross-cultural training on Aboriginal youth and cultural issues; the extent to which Aboriginal learning styles and languages are recognised; the effectiveness of Aboriginal involvement in school decision-making decision-making,
n the process of coming to a conclusion or making a judgment.

decision-making, evidence-based,
n a type of informal decision-making that combines clinical expertise, patient concerns, and evidence gathered from
; or the impact of anti-racist policies.

A review of Aboriginal education in Western Australian indicates that these remain problems for schools:
   The evidence presented does not whether ... training has been
   successful in meeting the learning needs of Aboriginal children
   and students; nor does it show that Aboriginal students and their
   families and communities believe that the training has helped
   teachers to become more effective in meeting Aboriginal students'
   learning needs (Kemmis, 1999, p. 12).

Kemmis reported that there was little evidence available to show that schools were implementing anti-racist strategies (1999, p. 31).

Elite model

Western Australia Western Australia, state (1991 pop. 1,409,965), 975,920 sq mi (2,527,633 sq km), Australia, comprising the entire western part of the continent. It is bounded on the N, W, and S by the Indian Ocean. Perth is the capital.  is the only state currently pursuing merit selection of Aboriginal students to complete Year Twelve. Established as an elite model in education, the scheme is designed to support those students who are reaching literacy and numeracy benchmarks and who have aspirations aspirations nplaspiraciones fpl (= ambition); ambición f

aspirations npl (= hopes, ambition) → aspirations fpl 
 to enter university. The program is designed to lift the number of Aboriginal students entering university straight from school by offering additional supports and resources to students and families. Although only in its early stages, the program is the largest Aboriginal education program in the state in the last decade and, as such, represents a significant new departure in the national debate about Aboriginal education policy.

The theoretical foundations of such a model create complex linkages to the political and sociological writings on elitism e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism  
1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.
 and especially the commonly understood notion of rule by elites; however, elitism conjures a wide variety of meanings, including the idea of a select group of people which Nyquist (nd, p. 6) has more specifically defined as 'any attempt to impose rules governing gov·ern  
v. gov·erned, gov·ern·ing, gov·erns
1. To make and administer the public policy and affairs of; exercise sovereign authority in.

 the selective process in certain areas of endeavour ... which puts at a disadvantage some group (or groups) who would do better with a different set of rules.'

Constructing a significant component on Aboriginal education policy around the differential rewarding of Aboriginal young people challenges widespread egalitarian e·gal·i·tar·i·an  
Affirming, promoting, or characterized by belief in equal political, economic, social, and civil rights for all people.
 ideas in education that schools should strive for equality opportunity for all. As Walker (1992) comments, elitism 'seems at least formally compatible with an unequal schooling system, for example a system which includes elite fee-charging schools whose graduates enter the professions or have the wealth to join or influence political elites.'

The Department of Education and Training of Western Australian claims that its program 'instils community pride by enhancing the capacity of partners and students to change existing mindsets to a culture of excellence and achievement of aspirations' (2003, p. 51). Participating students are offered extra work outside school hours and individual education plans. It is expected that older students will become role models for the younger aspirants on the program.

Can such a policy thrust be defended in Aboriginal education? Given its recent introduction, there is an understandable lack of official dialogue on the issue, although it is perhaps surprising that it has not been at least canvassed as an option. Such a complex debate lies beyond the scope of this paper apart from a few general observations. Firstly, as Nyquist argues, elitism is unavoidable in society due to the problem of limited access. In the case of Aboriginal education, it could be argued that there is limited access to the kinds of resources that are needed to achieve success for all Aboriginal students and there is limited access to tertiary tertiary (tûr`shēârē), in the Roman Catholic Church, member of a third order. The third orders are chiefly supplements of the friars—Franciscans (the most numerous), Dominicans, and Carmelites.  places. Secondly, the concept of elitism being applied to Aboriginal people does not necessarily carry the same negative connotations as it does for the broader community because of the presence of extreme disadvantage among the former. In other words, disproportionately dis·pro·por·tion·ate  
Out of proportion, as in size, shape, or amount.

 rewarding some Aboriginal students may be necessary so that the Aboriginal community can begin to enjoy the same opportunities as the broader community.

Given the priority accorded the elite model in Western Australia, the official discourse on Aboriginal education will need to quickly embrace this model's principles and evaluate its achievements.

Compensatory skills model

The poor performance of Aboriginal students in basic literacy and numeracy has worried educationalists and policy makers for decades. It has been a focal point focal point
See focus.
 in the official discourse examined in this article. While the senate inquiry (2000) concluded that 'literacy is by far the most pressing issue in Indigenous education', public officials have not been able to resolve the central issue: can improved outcomes in literacy and numeracy be achieved through better classroom practice, or are improvements inextricably in·ex·tri·ca·ble  
a. So intricate or entangled as to make escape impossible: an inextricable maze; an inextricable web of deceit.

 linked to the broader resolution of the sociocultural so·ci·o·cul·tur·al  
Of or involving both social and cultural factors.

 barriers Aboriginal students commonly face at school?

There are sharp differences in the official discourse on this matter. MCEETYA (2000, p. 43) argued against the utility of compensatory programs:
   For decades, education systems have been conducting compensatory
   programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to
   provide additional support. While these programs have been
   responsible for the considerable programs made in Indigenous
   education, they have often had two unintended side-effects: first,
   they marginalise the target group and the personnel who implement
   the programmes, and second, they become the focus of perceptions
   about unfair access to additional resources.

   The senate review adopted an opposing viewpoint:

   The Committee is concerned that a pre-occupation with teaching
   strategies, culturally relevant curricula and other elements of
   classroom practice--important as they are--should not be allowed to
   outweigh a consideration of the principal goal of school, which is
   the inculcation of life skills, including proficiency in literacy
   and numeracy (Senate Employment, Workplace Relations, Small
   Business and Educational References Committee, 2000, p. 93).

Then there is the view expressed in the Queensland education department's review: namely, that classroom teachers and administrators needed a sufficient understanding of cross-cultural and language pedagogy to advance literacy (Education Queensland, 2000, p. 29).

The Commonwealth Government's 2000-2004 strategy on literacy and numeracy took the widest possible course through this debate. In striving to achieve comparability in literacy and numeracy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, it identified five key elements: lifting Aboriginal school attendance rates; addressing hearing and other health problems; developing cross-cultural awareness in teachers; ensuring the adoption of effective teaching methods; and enhancing accountability. The Commonwealth Government allocated $65.9 million for the period of the strategy. Many of the programs funded by the Commonwealth under the strategy were directed at 'readiness for learning' initiatives (DEST, 2002, p. 84); in other words, addressing some of the structural disadvantages impeding the acquisition of literacy and numeracy. This being the case, the issue with the compensatory skills model is the extent to which it can exist in an effective form outside parallel linkages with all other models, and especially social justice and school responsiveness models.


This paper has contributed to policy discussion on Indigenous education by developing a comprehensive framework of models embodying current approaches and by showing that the official discourse has a limited understanding of these models, and especially their theoretical underpinnings.

Several important consequences for policy debate and development flow from these findings.

Development of policy would benefit from a more explicit application of the models. Future strategies in Indigenous education should take account of the role played by each model in improving outcomes. The models have the potential to provide a template (1) A pre-designed document or data file formatted for common purposes such as a fax, invoice or business letter. If the document contains an automated process, such as a word processing macro or spreadsheet formula, then the programming is already written and embedded in the  for the classification of current policy approaches and the identification of policy gaps.

In turn, official policy discourse would prove more effective with a systematic recognition of the models. Reviews play an important role in the ongoing discourse but it is clear that there is currently no uniform means guiding their deliberations. Greater consistency of review mechanisms would produce a more comprehensive overview of Indigenous education and provide direction for policy development and evaluation.

Given the finding that the models are discrete but not mutually exclusive it is important that a framework for their integration is developed. While this task lies beyond the scope of this paper, it is our contention that an integrated approach is most likely to flow from planned interagency coordination Within the context of Department of Defense involvement, the coordination that occurs between elements of Department of Defense, and engaged US Government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and regional and international organizations for the purpose of accomplishing an objective.  that explicitly recognises the primacy pri·ma·cy  
n. pl. pri·ma·cies
1. The state of being first or foremost.

2. Ecclesiastical The office, rank, or province of primate.
 and role of each model. In effect, an application of the models provides a functional blueprint blueprint, white-on-blue photographic print, commonly of a working drawing used during building or manufacturing. The plan is first drawn to scale on a special paper or tracing cloth through which light can penetrate.  for identifying the roles and responsibilities of each agency required to provide resources.

Similarly, the models, when conceptualised as an integrated strategy, provide a more structured approach for accountability. Given the primacy of the models to provide a theoretical underpinning un·der·pin·ning  
1. Material or masonry used to support a structure, such as a wall.

2. A support or foundation. Often used in the plural.

3. Informal The human legs. Often used in the plural.
 to practice, it is most likely that improved outcomes in Indigenous education will flow from the extent to which governments can show program development in accordance Accordance is Bible Study Software for Macintosh developed by OakTree Software, Inc.[]

As well as a standalone program, it is the base software packaged by Zondervan in their Bible Study suites for Macintosh.
 with each model.

In light of the consistent findings in the policy discourse that improvements in outcomes for Indigenous students remain problematic, new ways to develop policy and improve official discourse is clearly required. This paper has sought to make a contribution to this challenge by proposing the existence of discrete models of Aboriginal education that need to be integrated and systematically adopted in the policy development and review processes. The current ad hoc For this purpose. Meaning "to this" in Latin, it refers to dealing with special situations as they occur rather than functions that are repeated on a regular basis. See ad hoc query and ad hoc mode.  approach to policy development and review cannot be sustained.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Torres Strait (tŏr`ĭz, –rĭs), channel, c.95 mi (153 km) wide, between New Guinea and Cape York Peninsula of Australia. It connects the Arafura and Coral seas.  Islander Social Justice Commissioner (1998). Social Justice Report. Sydney: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) is a national independent statutory body of the Australian Government. It has the responsibility for investigating alleged infringements under Australia’s anti-discrimination legislation. .

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner (1999). Social Justice Report. Sydney: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

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For the handbook about Wikipedia, see .

This article is about reference works. For the subnotebook computer, see .
"Pocket reference" redirects here.
. Sydney: Allen Al·len , Edgar 1892-1943.

American anatomist who is noted for his studies of hormones and for the discovery (1923) of estrogen.
 & Unwin.

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an abnormality of gait in a horse in which there is a momentary hesitation before the foot is placed on the ground.
 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

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Sociol the failure of society to provide certain people with those rights normally available to its members, such as employment, health care, education, etc.
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  • American system of manufacturing, for a system of manufacturing developed in America.
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 in cross-cultural perspective. New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
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1. The oneness of a thing with itself.

2. An awareness of and identification with oneself as a separate individual.
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You can assist by [ editing it] now.
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n. 1. (Hind. Myth.) One of the Brahmanic eons, a period of 4,320,000,000 years. At the end of each Kalpa the world is annihilated.
: Report on the inquiry into the effectiveness of education and training programs for Indigenous Australians Indigenous Australians are descendants of the first known human inhabitants of the Australian continent and its nearby islands. The term includes both the Torres Strait Islanders and the Aboriginal People, who together make up about 2.5% of Australia's population. . Canberra: Senate Printing Unit.

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Naval Special Warfare
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Welch, A. (1996). Australian education: Reform or crisis? St Leonards St Leonards is the name of several places:

In the United Kingdom:
  • Upton St Leonards, Gloucestershire
  • St Leonards, Buckinghamshire
  • St Leonards, Dorset
  • St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex (A Large Area Of Hastings)
  • St Leonards, East Kilbride
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Quentin Beresford

Jan Gray

Edith Cowan University

Dr Quentin Beresford is an Associate Professor of Politics and Government at Edith Cowan University, WA 6050.

Dr Jan Gray is a Senior Lecturer senior lecturer
n. Chiefly British
A university teacher, especially one ranking next below a reader.
 in Education at Edith Cowan University, WA 6050. Email

Correspondence concerning this article can be directed to Dr Jan Gray.
Table 1 Analysis of report modes for
Aboriginal education

Type of Report        Purpose of Report

Consultant report     Independent performance
                        compliance report

Departmental report   Policy review / statement

Commonwealth          Independent research
  Departmental          based review
  funded report

Commonwealth          Performance
  Parliamentary         accountability
  report                report

Table 2 Models of Aboriginal education in Australia

Model               Defining features

Social Justice      Address structural disadvantage
                    Acknowledge intergenerational disadvantage
                    Based on resistance and alienation theories
                    Need for culturally appropriate support structures

Community           Build partnerships between schools and Aboriginal
Development         communities
                    Build links between schools and broader community
                    Build effective interagency support
                    Develop local solutions for local circumstances

Enhanced            Requires overarching policy frameworks
Coordination        Based on policy theory of organisations
                    Develop strong partnerships between government,
                    communities and education systems

Cultural            Need for cultural identity--language,
Recognition         learning styles
                    Based on interactionist theory of shared meaning
                    of the world
                    Culturally relevant and rigorous curriculum
                    Culturally aware teachers--two-way learning

School              Capacity for schools to engage in change
Responsiveness      Respect socio-economic and cultural context of
                    Curricula adapted to needs of Aboriginal learners
                    Meeting requirements for community participation

Elitist             Disproportionate resources for Aboriginal students
                    meeting benchmarks
                    Support and resource students and families with
                    aspirations for tertiary entry
                    Founded on political and sociological notions
                    of rule by elites

Compensatory        Opposing positions on teaching versus socio-cultural
Skills              foci
                    Comparability in literacy and numeracy
                    Teachers skilled in cross-cultural and language

                    Illustration in
Model               discourse

Social Justice      Senate Inquiry (2000)
                    National Framework
                    for Indigenous Youth

Community           House of
Development         Representatives
                    Standing Committee
                    on ATSI Affairs

Enhanced            MCEETYA, 2000

Cultural            Senate Review (2000)
Recognition         Collins Report
                    Kemmis (1999)
                    Burke et. al (2000)

School              Vinson inquiry (2002)
Responsiveness      Kemmis (1999)
                    Burke et. al (2000)

Elitist             Department of
                    Education and
                    Training WA (2003)

Compensatory        DEST, 2002
Skills              Education
                    Department of
                    Queensland Review
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Author:Gray, Jan
Publication:Australian Journal of Education
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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