Abstracts for Issue 1, 2012
Indigenous early school leavers: Failure, risk and high-stakes testing
Indigenous early school leavers in Australia’s major cities comprise a significantly larger proportion of students than their non-Indigenous peers. Drawing on recent findings from the National Assessment Program: Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) and the Australian Census, this paper examines what those data may or may not tell us about those young Indigenous people and their engagement (or lack of engagement) with education. The paper explores the notions of educational failure and risk as they apply to this cohort of young people and then lays out a critique of the application of high-stakes tests, such as the NAPLAN, with particular reference to the educational disengagement of Indigenous youth. The paper concludes with some alternative policy options derived from evidence-based research in Australia and principles underlying education policy in what are often cited as some of the best educational systems in the world.
Indigenous poverty in New South Wales major cities: A multidimensional analysis
Rebecca Reeve, Centre of Health Economics Research and Evaluation, University of Technology Sydney
Income alone is an insufficient indicator of poverty, which is a multidimensional phenomenon. Previous research demonstrates that Indigenous people are disadvantaged according to multiple indicators and the nature and solutions to poverty differ depending on location. In this paper the interconnected aspects of Indigenous poverty in New South Wales major cities are demonstrated based on a framework developed by the Productivity Commission’s Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision (SCRGSP 2003). In this framework, headline indicators identify multiple areas of disadvantage and strategic change indicators represent possible causes of disadvantage that can be targeted by policy makers. The results of an econometric analysis, using 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey data, suggest the key causes of Indigenous disadvantage and the interdependence of headline indicators, including health, labour force outcomes, education, income, victimisation and incarceration. The recent New South Wales policy approach Two Ways Together recognises this interdependence and has the potential to improve Indigenous welfare in New South Wales major cities. However, an examination of specific policy documents and preliminary evidence drawn from changes in the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous outcomes indicates that further progress is required to reduce Indigenous poverty in major cities of New South Wales.
Rectifying ‘the Great Australian Silence’? Creative representations of Australian Indigenous Second World War service
Until the publication of Robert Hall’s landmark book The Black Diggers in 1989, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were essentially ‘written out’ of Australia’s Second World War history. Still, more than 20 years since the publication of Hall’s book, Australian Indigenous participation in the war effort as servicemen and women, labourers, scouts, in wartime industries and in various other capacities continues to be on the periphery of Australia’s war history. The Second World War remains part of what WEH Stanner referred to in 1969 as ‘the Great Australian Silence’ of Indigenous history.
Notwithstanding the lack of significant academic histories of Indigenous military history, there have been a few creative depictions of Aboriginal participation in the Second World War. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people have used creative mediums, such as poetry, short fiction, film, musical theatre and music, to portray Aboriginal Second World War service. This paper examines these creative cultural representations and how they position Australian Indigenous war service within a wider narrative of the Second World War and Indigenous history. Though the portrayals of Aboriginal service vary, the majority of creative works present the Second World War as central to Australian Indigenous history. Moreover, the creative representations depict Indigenous servicemen’s hopes for a better life after the war, only to be crushed when they returned to ongoing discrimination. Even so, the creative depictions use the Second World War as an early marker of reconciliation in Australia, portraying the conflict as a time when ideals of liberty and equality overruled prejudice to unite Australia. Such a message continues to resonate, as creative representations of the Second World War contribute to contemporary understandings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander citizenship and reconciliation.
A comparison of traditional Kaurna kinship patterns with those used in contemporary Nunga English
Dr Rob Amery and Vincent (Jack) Kanya Buckskin
The Kaurna people were the first South Australians to bear the brunt of the effects of colonisation. Even as early as 1850, the Kaurna language was said to be ‘extinct’, though it was probably still spoken as an everyday language up until the 1860s. Ivaritji, the so-called ‘last speaker’, died in 1929. Nonetheless, we still see enduring patterns of kinship categorisation and associated behaviours that clearly have their roots in Kaurna culture, or at least local Aboriginal cultures, persisting to the present day. This paper sets out to document those enduring patterns, as well as the re-introduction of kin terms and accompanying knowledge of Kaurna kinship associated with Kaurna language reclamation efforts. A great many Kaurna kinship terms were documented in the 1840s and a few in the early twentieth century, though many of these were under-defined and poorly described. Comparative linguistics has assisted in making sense of the historical record, though many uncertainties remain.
A recent history of the professionalisation of Australian applied anthropology and its relevance to native title practice
Pamela Faye McGrath
This paper describes collective efforts over the past 30 years by Australian anthropologists towards achieving national representation and accreditation for applied practitioners. The intention is to better understand the viability of various strategies aimed at strengthening a community of practice for native title anthropologists today. The ‘professionalisation’ issue has recently re-emerged as a topic for discussion and debate in the context of an identified shortage of suitably qualified and experienced anthropologists in the area of native title research. This shortage is reportedly contributing to delays in the processing of native title claims and raises concerns about professional standards. The potential consequences for those Aboriginal groups seeking recognition of their native title are profound. Drawing on a range of historical sources, this paper documents the rise and fall of a number of professional networks, organisations and training programs for applied anthropologists established since the early 1980s, including the Professional Association for Applied Anthropology and Sociology, the Queensland Association of Professional Anthropologists and Archaeologists, and the Australian Association of Applied Anthropology. What this short history reveals is that past efforts to organise and accredit applied anthropologists coincided with significant changes to the political, legal and commercial frameworks in which they were required to work, with the uncertainties and anxieties that accompanied change driving the desire for a more robust and supportive community of professional practice. The ultimate failure of these organisations suggests that improving the professionalism of applied practice in native title anthropology cannot be achieved solely from within the discipline itself. Rather, it will require engagement with and the support of external stakeholders who also have interests in ensuring high quality native title research outcomes.
Models of supervision: Providing effective support to Aboriginal staff
This paper identifies models of supervision that have successfully been utilised to support Aboriginal staff and establishes an evidence base around effective supervisory practice. The literature review, on which this paper is based, was largely driven to meet the needs of Aboriginal staff in a large non-government organisation dealing with issues around the professional development and retention of Aboriginal staff. While there are some models developed for Indigenous workers internationally, there wasn’t one specific to Australian Aboriginal staffing needs. This paper therefore seeks to identify aspects of supervision that have been successfully utilised with Indigenous staff and that may be adapted to suit the unique cultural needs of Aboriginal staff in Australia. It encourages further research into the development and applicability of specific models for Australian Aboriginal staff.