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Assessment 2- Minor Essay

With over half a million people and the population still growing the
Indigenous people of Australia remain the most disadvantaged group within
the Australian education system. This paper will critically analyse why in a
modern society this is still the case. Past history and legislations, cultural
differences, the health, emotional and social wellbeing of the indigenous
children and families are the main foundations why Indigenous youths
remain the most underprivileged. These will be discussed as factors that
contribute to the current crisis involving Australias Aboriginals. Strategies
and systems in place that provide support to help improve the unfortunate
issue, together with an overview of a proposed line of attack to decrease the
amount of deprived indigenous people, particularly the youths in the
education system will be argued throughout this paper. Education statistics
will also be displayed to provide a better understanding of the differences
between the growing populations of the most educationally disadvantaged
group compared to the rest of the multicultural population of more
advantaged Australians.
Much of Australias indigenous youths are unfortunately trapped in nasty
vicious cycle where poor education leads to poor health and that poor health
leads to poor Education (Beresford &Partington, 2003). The health, emotional
and social wellbeing that are risks for Australian indigenous populations
include two aspects, both of which have an impact on education later in life;

The first aspect is the physical upbringing of the child and the
environment. These are issues after birth and include low
socioeconomic status, lack of immunization, financial stress,
substance use, both personally and by others who are present in
the environment where the child is growing up, violence, and
remoteness. Many indigenous communities are located in remote
areas of Australia where unfortunately the amount of health care
services are fewer than those in urban areas, therefore health
support is very limited (Shepherd &Zubrick, 2012) and also adds
to the features that contribute to poor physical issues of
indigenous Australians.
The second aspect are issues prior to birth and include maternal
malnutrition; which alone can lead to a number of additional
problems such as abnormal foetal growth that can affect the
development of organs together with the lack of cell

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development in the brain (Berk, 2009). Low birth weight is

another aspect alone that can branch off to other complications
in health; it can be the result of malnutrition but also the use of
drugs by the mother. Maternal illness and disease and radiation
are other health issues all of which again branch off to other
health issues.
This vast amount of health issues involving Australian indigenous has been
known to be a problem for many years and despite reports that have had a
focus on health along with other issues such as housing, employment etc,
together with declarations made by politicians and public officials the
dilemma of poor health stands unchanged with indigenous students who still
experience comparable issues that stood in past generations (Partington,
1998). While many health issues are key indicators to poor education,
nutrition is one of the key factors in the health status of Indigenous
communities that can have a direct positive impact from education, if
providing appropriate information on the importance of nutrition and general
health knowledge can be made available to indigenous communities
particularly in the remote areas the vast majority of indigenous youths may
have a better school attendance rate (Biddle, 2007). Unfortunately the
current attendance rate in turn becomes part of the issue in itself and
contributes to the whole vicious circle that is hard to break.
A culture difference between the Australian indigenous and non indigenous
population is another reason for the disadvantaged position of Australian
indigenous youths in the education system.
While the main culture
differences include those amongst remote indigenous communities where
they still live, and rightly so, by maintain their traditional culture, together
with using their native languages. The Australian Aboriginal culture is quite
different to the western world, and whether we are teaching indigenous
people from remote areas or urban areas of Australia, western society needs
to have an understanding that these major differences are the identity of the
Australian indigenous people and their culture. Music is another major part of
Aboriginal culture together with the difference in the meaning of place. Place
is in the heart of aboriginal culture, no person from the western society will
share the same attachment and the significance of place the way that
Australian indigenous do. Specific places affirm existence and connections
amongst the indigenous people (Power & Bradley, 2011). While this is quite
different to the way that western society experience place, it is a difference
that needs to be understood by teachers throughout Australia so they learn
to value and respect these differences to enable encouraging and positive
school experiences, not only essential to live a longer health life, but to
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support cultural difference and understanding. It is not easy for indigenous

people to attend school; especially if they are not respected they could lose
their self esteem. While many consider that some Indigenous children do not
attend school because their parents do not allow them to, or that they lack
any motivation or commitment, the Aboriginal culture conceptual plan are
not necessarily compatible with those needed for productive or successful
participation in western education systems (Taylor, 2010).
Literacy is a critical part of schooling and education. Having strong literacy
knowledge generally relates and is shared with power and privilege which go
hand in hand with a successful education. However, language is based on
the idea that it is the most important factor for a positive cultural
environment, one must have full understanding of text to improve
educational outcomes amongst students in the classroom. This factor leads
to remote indigenous youths automatically becoming disadvantaged in the
education system as many have no or little understanding of the Australian
English language or its meaning. Indigenous people hold such different
believes which are far removed from the dominant discourse (Sharp, 2012).
Studies in 2008 show that only 37 percent of indigenous students completed
school compared to 77 percent of non indigenous (Australian Bureau of
Statistics [ABS]) the lack of knowledge held by indigenous populations about
the context of text and its meaning contribute towards these figures.
Frustration and cultural ignorance by many teachers, and misunderstanding
about Aboriginal cultures would also play a part (Beresford &Partington,
2003). To maintain positive and trusting relationship and students self
esteem their culture must be respected.
Since the past invasion of Australia, racism has become a main response
from governments and individual people. At the time of migration Aboriginals
became separated from the main society, many aboriginals having their
freedom decreased because of government legislations, Aboriginals were
labelled as inadequate people in education with professionals stating that
they could not be educated past grade 3 or 4 (Beresford &Partington, 2003).
Together with these beliefs the lack of access to resources available to
indigenous people has been because the non Aboriginal people that have
controlled who can have access to the resources and have done so subject to
certain values. Keeping in mind that Aboriginal and non Aboriginal people
have quite different values, often those in a position of power had little
understanding about indigenous people, their needs and their families and
therefore did not allow equal rights or opportunities for the indigenous
people by retaining information from the indigenous population (Lewis,
2011). Aboriginals were also excluded from many state schools (Beresford
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&Partington, 2003). These past racial decisions have left the indigenous
people alienated from the dominant society overall and from the mainstream
education (Partington, 1998). While some aboriginals are disadvantaged in
the education system due to the remoteness and health problems many
education concerns also stem from the history of how the indigenous were
treated at the time of the colonization in 1788 up until the 1950s. Equal
policies and procedures are now needed to try and minimize that separation
and start to give indigenous students equal opportunities for schooling and
education (Lewis, 2011)
In conclusion, it is quite clear that indigenous youths remain the most
educationally disadvantaged group within Australia. Despite the efforts by
governments with new legislations that work on cultural differences, extra
support and training for teachers and the wider community. While the focus
of the training is to help gain awareness and understanding of such issues
involving the Indigenous youths, the situation remains in a similar position to
generations ago. The primary points that are causing this disadvantage are;
the major variation in culture between the indigenous and non indigenous;
past history and legislation together with an extensive range of health;
emotional and social wellbeing concerns involving the Aboriginal people. It is
difficult to turn around the growing population without respecting and
understanding the indigenous background. Furthermore it is essential to
encourage positive equal schooling. Teachers need to have a strong
knowledge of Indigenous backgrounds and respect for their unique culture,
this is the only way that, in time, the disadvantaged figures will be reduced
from the figures that are currently held and start to increase brighter futures
for indigenous youths in a range of areas, including, the most significant
factors for success in education.

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Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). Australian Social Trends, 2008. Cat. No.
4102.0 . Canberra: retrieved 29th March, 2012,
Berk, L. (2009).Child development. (8thed). United States of America: Pearson.
Beresford, Q. &Partington, G. (2003).Reform and resistance in Aboriginal
education.Australia: University of Western Australia press.
Biddle, N. (2007). IndigenousAustralians and preschool education, Australian Journal

of Early Childhood ,32(3) , 9-16.

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Lewis, P. (2011). Rights as the Framework For Responsible Relationships Between

Australia 'lnvader-Society and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Ethos,
19(4), 6-10.
Partington, G. (1998). Perspectives on Aboriginal and Torrens Strait Islander
education. (1st ed). Australia: lingare Pty Limited.
Power, A. & Bradley, M. (2011). Teachers make adifference to the study of Aboriginal
music in NSW.
Australian Journal of Music Education,2.22-29.
Sharp, K. (2012). BreakingDown the Barriers: Using Critical Literacy to Improve
Educational Outcomes for Students in 21st-century Australian Classrooms.Literacy
Learning: The Middle Years. 20 (1), 9-15.
Shepherd, C. J., Li, J., &Zubrick, S. R. (2012).Social Gradients in the Health of
Indigenous Australians.American Journal Of Public Health, 102(1), 107-117.

Taylor, A. (2010).Here and now: the attendance issue in Indigenous

education. Journal of Education Policy, 25(5).Retrieved from

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