Enriching tertiary education with Indigenous voices

Tom Calma
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
Australian Human Rights Commission

The Don Aitkin Lecture 2009

11 December 2009


 Enriching tertiary education with Indigenous voices. The Don Aitkin Lecture 2009

Good Afternoon, I begin by acknowledging all of the Ngunnawal peoples – the traditional owners of the land where we meet. I pay my respects to you and your elders, past and present.

Chancellor, Professor Ingrid Moses, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Parker; CEO of Reconciliation Australia, Mr Paul Callahan; Professor Don, and Mrs Beverley Aitkin, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. It is my great honour to be delivering the Don Aitkin lecture the evening.

Don Aitkin is an inspiration in the field of education. He is a man who has not only managed to keep pace with changes in the tertiary education sector, he has also been able to lead that change. He is one of those rare leaders in his field who can inspire change at the helm of a university while also having the intellectual vision to publish nine books so far – one of them a novel.

The focus of the Don Aitkin lecture each year is to reflect on major contemporary social, scientific and cultural issues. This afternoon I have chosen to talk about education – specifically higher education as it is my area of passion too. I want to reflect on the role and participation of Indigenous Australians in the higher education sector.

 Education is evolving and changing all over the globe. Indigenous Australians are part of this revolution

As many of us know, education in Australia and across the globe is evolving and changing at such a rate that it is almost impossible to keep pace. As a parent I know that much – and while I am no Luddite – I struggle to keep abreast of all of the new systems, information technologies and social media that are second nature to my children. The way we consume information is dramatically different to the way it was even ten years ago. It is astonishing to think that the first person-to-person SMS text message was sent in Finland in 1993 at a time when the mobile phone was the size of a brick. For some of us, the 1990s were not that long ago!

Today teaching is also happening through rapidly changing media. Online tutorials, Skype and YouTube are helping to create a global classroom that is connecting people from some of the most remote corners of the planet. As many of us here have witnessed, Indigenous people are part of this education revolution – and tertiary institutions are finding some interesting ways to include us as teachers and students in the higher education sector.

Later in this presentation I am going to describe some of these education and research practices, but in the first part I want to discuss the pre - conditions that bring Indigenous people to post-secondary education. What is it that encourages my people to further study, and how can we build on successes?

 Australia’s first Indigenous graduate. In 1966 Charles Perkins became the first Indigenous person in Australia to graduate with a university degree. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Sydney University. In 1893 New Zealand saw its first Māori university graduate. Apirana Ngata graduated with a degree in political science. He then went on to attain a masters degree and later a second degree in law.

It has taken Australia a while to see its first Indigenous graduate. Compared with other countries, Australia has been a slow starter on this score. It was not until 1966 when Charlie Perkins was awarded a Bachelor of Arts from Sydney University that Australia had its first Indigenous graduate. Yet New Zealand had Maori university graduates almost a century before. In 1893, Apir-ana Ng-ata was the first Māori graduate in political science. He then went on to attain a masters degree and later a second degree in law. [1]

And this begs the question – why did it take Australia so long to see its first Indigenous graduate and why was New Zealand so far ahead of us?

 Equal rights - 1967. Australia has been relatively slow in granting equal rights to Indigenous Australians. It takes time for people to be empowered to access their rights.

I think we can safely say that equal rights had something to do with the different timelines.

The British Crown officially recognized the rights of the Māori in 1835 through the Declaration of Māori Independence. In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi confirmed British protection and citizenship for all people of New Zealand, including the Māori. At that time in the 1840s all New Zealand citizens had exactly the same rights and privileges as the people of England.

 1967 referendum  -  42 years on. It is now a little more than 40 years since the 1967 referendum. Indigenous Australia’s are increasingly taking up higher learning opportunities. In 1995, 862 completed award courses. In 2008 the number of completions increased to 1,297.

Nearly 130 years later Indigenous Australians were accorded full citizenship rights in Australia. And it is no coincidence that Charlie Perkins took out his degree the year before the successful referendum on Indigenous rights in 1967. There is a direct correlation between one’s status as a citizen and one’s ability to access the resources of the nation state.

In the cases of both New Zealand and Australia we also see lag times between the time that Indigenous peoples are accorded rights and their ability to exercise the rights.

Fifty years after the Treaty of Waitangi Sir Ng ata graduated with his first degree. While Charlie Perkins graduated before he had full citizen rights, the general move of Indigenous Australians into higher education has taken some time to gain momentum. It is now a little more than 40 years since the 1967 referendum and the data tells us that Indigenous Australia’s are increasingly taking up higher learning opportunities.

In 1995, 862 Indigenous Australians completed award courses. In 2008 the number of completions increased to 1,297. [2]

In fact, from a slow start, Australia has picked up its pace and we now have the same proportion of Indigenous graduates as New Zealand, the United States and Canada, where they had a head-start. [3] These proportional estimates are calculated against the relative Indigenous populations of each country.

 There is still some work to do. While the Indigenous population makes up 2.5 percent of Australia’s total population,  we make up less than 1 percent of all higher education enrolments.

Nevertheless, while we are seeing proportional gains in some education sectors, Indigenous enrolments still fall behind non-Indigenous enrolments in higher education. While the Indigenous population makes up 2.5 percent of Australia’s total population, we make up less than one percent of all higher education enrolments. [4]

So given that we still have some catching up to do, let’s get back to the push and pull factors that influence higher education participation, and see what can we learn. We know that having equal rights is a foundational factor in giving Indigenous people access to higher education opportunities – and we know that it takes time for people to be able to exercise their rights. So what else is significant?

 Financial support. Financial support increases Indigenous participation in higher education. The Commonwealth’s Indigenous Access and Enabling Scholarships (IAS and IES) were introduced in 2008. Enrolments increased by 7.1 percent for commencing students between 2007 and 2008. 1,000 scholarships were available to eligible Indigenous students in 2008.

The data tells us that financial support increases Indigenous participation in higher education. The Commonwealth’s Indigenous Access and Enabling Scholarships (IAS and IES) were introduced in 2008 and enrolments increased by 7.1 percent for commencing students and 1.7 percent for all students between 2007 and 2008. A significant contributor to this increase may have been the 1,000 scholarships that were available to eligible Indigenous students in 2008. These annual scholarships continue to be offered in 2009 and into the future. [5]

 Indigenous students’ guide to postgraduate scholarships in Australia and overseas.

Scholarships can make a difference to students for whom the financial challenge is the impediment to study. I am pleased that this year the inaugural Indigenous students’ guide to postgraduate scholarships in Australia and overseas brings into one place all of the information that is relevant for post graduate bursaries. Jointly published by the Aurora Project and the Charlie Perkins Trust for Children and Students, this publication includes information about 120 postgraduate scholarships across all subject disciplines. The Guide takes students through the process of choosing a scholarship, making an application and making an acceptance.[6]

I have lent my voice to support this Guide because it is practical initiatives like this one that can make a difference.

It is significant that the Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education makes a raft of recommendations to reform student income support. One of the recommendations is to raise the personal income threshold for ABSTUDY and Youth Allowance recipients to $400 per fortnight. This means students should be allowed to earn up to $400 per fortnight on top of their ABSTUDY allowance. The Bradley Review also recommends that Australia set targets to ensure that by 2020, 20 percent of undergraduate enrolments are by people from low socio-economic status backgrounds. This is in recognition that financial matters can be the impediment to study and create an unequal society. In light of the fact that Australia is slipping in its overall performance and investment in higher education compared with OECD countries, it is time for governments to increase their investments in the knowledge base of this nation. [7]

 Access to information. All of us make choices in life - based on what we know. Our life and school experiences shape our knowledge of future options.

So the second factor that can influence Indigenous peoples’ participation in higher education is financial; and scholarships and bursaries can be an important incentive for those who otherwise would not be able to take up further study.

The third factor that can influence Indigenous higher education participation is information. All of us make choices in life - based on what we know. If the information that is available to us is limited or incomplete, then our choices will be limited too.

 Information and knowledge is affected by one’s context and living environment. Primary School Tasmania photo. Primary School – Northern Territory photo.

Indigenous students are relatively well represented in the fields of education and health – maybe because they are professions that are well known to us. We are increasing our numbers at the high ends of these professions too.

There are now approximately 140 trained Indigenous doctors in Australia and there are almost as many Indigenous medical students currently enrolled – 137 actually.[8] We are making progress but we still have to move into some of those professions that are not as visible as education or health.

Let’s consider the following example where information may have played a role in encouraging Indigenous students into engineering.

 Progress is happening. There are now approximately 140 trained Indigenous doctors in Australia and 137 Indigenous students currently enrolled in medicine. In 1995 14 Indigenous students completed engineering and surveying degrees across Australia.

We know in Australia that Indigenous people are under-represented in some fields of study.

In 1995 only 14 Indigenous students completed engineering and surveying degrees across Australia. By 1999 the number of Indigenous engineer graduates hit a low of five. Then ten years later, in 2008, the number of engineering graduates rose to 20 across Australia.[9]

Now, there is no doubt that engineering is a tough discipline of study, and it is not for everyone, but what interests me is the fluctuations in the numbers of graduates. In 2008 there were four times as many graduates as there were in 1999. The data also tells us that in 2008 there were 187 Indigenous students commencing or studying engineering and related technologies across Australia. We may see a good many graduates in future and increasing enrolments in these disciplines. [10]

So what may have impacted in engineering student numbers?

While we can’t know for certain, it is possible that the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School has had a role.[11]

 Engineering Aid Australia. Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School. A 7 day live-in program that gives 20 Indigenous students a taste of engineering as a university course and career. Students are eligible to attend Summer School when they are entering Years 10,  11 and 12.

This annual program was established in 1999 by an NGO - Engineering Aid Australia. The Summer School is a seven day live-in program that gives 20 Indigenous students a taste of engineering as a university course and career. Students are eligible to attend Summer School when they are entering Years 10, 11 and 12. Since 1999 the courses have been administered by the University of Newcastle. Other summer schools in science and engineering and other disciplines are being convened across Australia including at Curtin University of Technology in Perth and at the University of New South Wales.[12]

Engineering, surveying and associated industries have much to offer Indigenous Australia. Across Australia, and particularly in remote Indigenous communities, there is a need for engineers to design, develop and advise on drinking water, roads, hospitals, schools, radio, television and communication networks and all the fabric of modern society.[13] Encouraging engineering graduates assists in our self determination – giving us opportunities to be the drivers in our own social and economic development.

The role of the Summer School is to assist in showing Indigenous young people the learning opportunities that exist in the field of engineering and associated technologies. The program gives young people an opportunity to consider a profession that they may not have otherwise known about. The words of a former Summer School student – Ben - say it all:

I attended the Engineering Summer School at the University of NSW back in 1999, and remember it as being a highly informative and enjoyable eye-opening experience. More importantly, I later attended and graduated from the same University as an Electrical Engineer in 2004, becoming the first Indigenous Engineering Student to graduate from this Institution. This will be my 7th year participating in the IAESS Program. I regard this program as an awesome opportunity for Indigenous youth to witness and find out more on what is available to them in University and Engineering. This program only gets better every year."[14]

Ben Lange, BE Electrical Engineering, UNSW and 1999 IAESS Alumni

As I mentioned, the engineering summer school is just one example of some very good initiatives that are informing Indigenous students about different fields of study.

 AIME - Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience. AIME provides structured mentoring - linking university students in a one-on-one relationship with Indigenous high school students. AIME's objectives are to increase Year 12 completions and university admission rates for Indigenous high school students. In 2009 there are over 500 Indigenous high school students receiving mentoring from AIME.

Along similar lines, the AIME program makes links between universities and high school students, thereby increasing the level of information that Indigenous students have about post secondary education. AIME is not an introduction to a field of study, though it undoubtedly gives high school students some insight into university life. AIME provides structured education mentoring that links university students in a one-on-one relationship with Indigenous high school students. AIME's objectives are to increase Year 12 completions and university admission rates for Indigenous high school students. The program was conceived in 2005 by a then, Indigenous university student, called Jack Manning Bancroft.

In 2009 there are now over 500 Indigenous high school students receiving mentoring from AIME. The mentoring is provided by Indigenous and non Indigenous university students so it has the added benefit of progressing practical reconciliation.

Five NSW universities are involved in the program and a national roll-out is being explored. AIME has a website for reference and if you know of any generous philanthropist who wants to back a worthy and successful program; direct them to AIME.

So the third factor or ingredient that can impact on higher education participation is the availability of information about learning and career opportunities. In many cases a brochure will not be enough to encourage someone to move into an unknown field of education. Hands-on learning and experiences such as those offered by the Summer School and AIME bring the different subject areas to life for potential students.

 Relevant education. The Teaching from Country project is an initiative of the Charles Darwin University. Aboriginal elders teach university students from their Aboriginal country or homelands. The program is like distance education in reverse - the Arnhem Land Aboriginal lecturers are in remote places and the students are (mostly) on campuses in cities.

The forth factor that encourages Indigenous participation in further education is directly linked to Indigenous culture and knowledge. Indigenous people feel that education is relevant when higher education institutions reflect, value and incorporate our knowledges in the curriculum and the teaching methodologies. Our own knowledges keep us in the class room and lead us to employment. Recognition of our knowledges in degree courses gives us the qualifications for many employment opportunities that are exclusively for Indigenous people.

Let me explain through an example. And this example brings me to the part in this presentation where I explain the role that technology can play as a conduit for Indigenous knowledges.

 Teaching from Country. Hand held cameras

The Teaching from Country project is an initiative of the Charles Darwin University. It began in September 2008. The project is about Aboriginal elders teaching university students from their Aboriginal country or homelands. This program is a bit like distance education in reverse – the Yolŋu, northeast Arnhem Land Aboriginal lecturers are in remote places and the students of Yolŋu languages, culture and fine arts, are (mostly) on campuses in cities.[15]

What makes this program unique is the use of digital technology to bring Indigenous philosophies and cultural information from remote locations into the urban universities in real time. Hand held cameras allow the Aboriginal teachers and elders to teach higher education students about their communities and the natural environment that surrounds them. The technology allows direct interaction between teachers and students using free Skype technology. Students and Aboriginal elders can see each other and ask and answer questions as they might in a classroom.

So far the project has connected with students at universities in Darwin, California and Tokyo.

The project achieves many outcomes. It employs Aboriginal teachers on their ancestral lands, on their own terms, in their own ways, thereby contributing to the economic and cultural sustainability of these communities. It provides a relatively cost-effective mode of enriched learning for students because it relies on free media. It allows universities to reconsider questions of Indigenous knowledge and its role in the academy in both research and teaching.[16]

There is no doubt that higher education has a role to assist students to prepare for their future lives and for professional life after graduation. For many Indigenous people, our working and future lives are directly linked to our unique knowledges and world view. It is a fact that our knowledges give us a unique competitive advantage in employment. Universities should consider this.

In remote, and increasingly in non-remote Australia, the jobs where Indigenous people have a competitive advantage are those in the social, educational and cultural industries where Indigenous languages and culture are an advantage. We can work in tourism where our knowledge gives us opportunities to work as guides or to establish our own tourism ventures. In the arts industries, our cultural knowledge is essential. Painting and weaving and carving all come from skills and stories that have been passed down through the generations. We can work as translators and interpreters, though we need our languages – and preferably to be able to write our languages.

 Cultural knowledge and climate change. In the Top End of Australia, traditional knowledge is used in fire abatement processes. Skilled Indigenous fire managers are working with the broader community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the biodiversity of large areas in Arnhem Land and the Kimberley.

We also have a competitive advantage in jobs in the ranger and land-care industries with the cultural knowledge that we have gained from our elders and our ancestors. In the Top End of Australia, traditional knowledge is used in fire abatement processes. Skilled Indigenous fire managers are working with the broader community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the biodiversity of large areas in Arnhem Land and the Kimberley.[17] Fire abatement is increasingly important as the globe heats and dry season fires burn longer and hotter.[18]

Our cultural knowledge continues to be important in understanding the patterns of climate change and ways to address its impacts. Our stories and songlines carry this knowledge. For example, the Torres Strait Islands people of Australia have an intimate knowledge of the flora, fauna, and seasonal shifts of their land and seas. At a 2006 workshop on climate change, they explained that they’d noticed changes in animal and plant behaviour and observed different patterns in seasonal temperatures. This is cultural knowledge that has been passed down over millennia through songs and stories that link animal behaviour with the seasons and the blooming of flora. Such knowledge is essential if endangered species of plants and animals are to be preserved. This knowledge potentially buys us time to address these looming environmental impacts.[19] In this case, this knowledge was reported in the Garnaut Review into climate change.

Our cross cultural knowledge is the factor that employs us as government liaison officers. We are employed to assist our brothers and sisters to access services. Being able to operate in both worlds is crucial for us, being able to speak English and our languages are a huge competitive advantage.

Universities and other higher education institutions offer Indigenous students access to the Western knowledges and opportunities.

Increasingly higher education environments are being enriched by traditional Indigenous knowledges and learning. So the benefits are for universities too. The Bradley Review says this about the involvement of our knowledges.

Indigenous involvement in higher education is not only about student participation and the employment of Indigenous staff.

It is also about what is valued as knowledge in the academy.

Indigenous students and staff have unique knowledge and understandings which must be brought into the curriculum for all students and must inform research and scholarship.[20]

 Staff in Australian Schools Survey. In 2007, thirty one percent of primary teachers who were early in their career said their pre-service training was of no help to assist them in teaching Indigenous students.

All students need this knowledge because many of them will work with Indigenous people in future.

Consider the findings from the 2007 Staff in Australian Schools Survey. Thirty one percent of primary teachers who were early in their career said their pre-service training was of no help to assist them in teaching Indigenous students.[21] Increasing Indigenous knowledges in higher education assists teachers to be better prepared which in turn assists Indigenous students in their academic performance.

And we know that there are numerous ways that universities can and do integrate our knowledges. In some instances it will be elective subjects in Bachelor courses – in others it may be entire courses on cultural knowledges and languages such as the Learning from Country course. The benefits ultimately flow to all Australians.

 UQ’s Education Principles on Indigenous Australian Matters (EPIAM) Policy. 1.3   Through these Principles there is acknowledgement of the significant value of Indigenous Knowledge in enriching the University community and the contribution of Indigenous staff and students in educating others about Indigenous Knowledge and ways of learning.  The aim is to embed into the University’s curriculum Indigenous Knowledge so that it is considered and incorporated into new courses and programs alongside traditional discipline content.  The University has a responsibility to develop students as civil citizens who understand not only their disciplinary and professional knowledge and requirements but also the societal context in which they will perform their professional duties.

Earlier this week I chaired a Review Panel of a research and support Unit at the University of Queensland and came across their Education Principles on Indigenous Australian Matters (EPIAM) policy that clearly articulates the University’s recognition of the importance of Indigenous Knowledges. While it is in the early stages of implementation, the message is clear to all staff and students – Indigenous Knowledges are integral to your learning irrespective of what course you are studying.

As I mentioned earlier, the Bradley review also references Indigenous Knowledges so I expect we will see movement in this area in the coming years across all universities.

As many of us know, Indigenous languages are critically endangered in Australia and they continue to die out at a rapid rate. Prior to colonisation, Australia had 250 distinct languages which expanded to 600 dialects.[22] Today only 18 Indigenous languages are currently spoken by all generations of people within a given language group.[23]

 Indigenous languages are critically endangered. Prior to colonisation, Australia had 250 distinct languages which expanded to 600 dialects. Today only 18 Indigenous languages are currently spoken by all generations of people within a given language group. 100 Indigenous languages still exist in some form in Australia,  many of them are in an advanced stage of endangerment. Small numbers of older people are the only full speakers of these languages. Without intervention Australia’s Indigenous language knowledge will cease to exist in the next 10 to 30 years.

While100 Indigenous languages still exist in some form in Australia, many of them are in an advanced stage of endangerment. Small numbers of older people are the only full speakers of these languages. Without intervention Australia’s Indigenous language knowledge will cease to exist in the next 10 to 30 years.[24]

While I am on this subject I can’t help but talk briefly about what is happening to bi-lingual and bi-cultural education in the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory Government has all but abolished Indigenous Bi-lingual approaches in NT schools in what I consider to be an act of cultural vandalism. Not only does the removal of bi-literacy take away the competitive advantage for Indigenous students to develop literacy in their own languages – bi-lingual approaches are being cut when they are proven to be superior English language learning approaches.

 Abolishing bilingual education. The Northern Territory Government has all but abolished Indigenous Bilingual approaches in NT schools . The removal of bi-literacy takes away an important competitive advantage for Indigenous students to develop literacy in their own languages. Bilingual approaches are being cut when they are proven to be superior English language learning approaches. A growing body of international evidence tells us that bilingual education approaches provide better English literacy outcomes for minority language speaking students than English-only approaches.

A growing body of international evidence tells us that bilingual education approaches provide better English literacy outcomes for minority language speaking students than English-only approaches. In 1998, a meta-analysis of bi-literacy approaches was sponsored by Harvard University and others. The study had stringent standards for research design quality and assessed the progress of 2,719 students in total. The study found that:

...children with limited English proficiency who are taught using at least some of their native language perform significantly better on standardized tests than similar children who are taught only in English. In other words, an unbiased reading of the scholarly research suggests that bilingual education helps children who are learning English.[25]

In 2005 another meta-analysis published data from 17 separate studies. This meta-analysis also found that bilingual education is ‘consistently superior to all-English approaches’.[26]

In light of increasing evidence, countries across the globe are implementing bilingual education approaches. For example, Ecuador has established a National Board of Intercultural and Bilingual Education. Across South East Asia, UNESCO is working with several countries to build and expand bilingual education approaches for minority language speakers.

 Competitive advantage for Indigenous students. Being literate in an Indigenous language is a competitive advantage in the workplace and mandatory for certain jobs. Many remote employment opportunities are based on Indigenous languages and culture. Indigenous languages can now be studied in Years 11 and 12.

So at a time when commitment to bilingual education is expanding internationally, Australia is shutting it down. The bilingual programs and the literature production centres that develop textbooks, teaching and learning materials and readers in Indigenous languages are all being shut down and a wealth of knowledge is being lost.

This takes me to the words of Sir Ken Robinson who was one of the architects of Tony Blair’s education revolution in Britain. When he was in Australia in 2009 he said this:

... every education system in the world currently is being reformed. I know it's true here in Australia, but it's true wherever you go - Asia, Europe, and America. And it's happening for two reasons. One of them is economic; everybody's trying to figure out – as parents and as employers and as students – how on Earth do you educate people to find a productive life in the 21st Century, when all the economies are shifting faster than we've known them.

So the economic thing is really important. But it's also about culture; about how you give people a sense of identity and what they need to know to be literate and fluent in these extraordinary times as well.

Sir Ken is right here. We need to know what it is we are educating for, and so much of what is known to us is shifting and changing. It goes back to my point about technology. Who would have thought 20 years ago that we would see people walking around cities talking into mobile phones. Today it seems like we have never lived without them.

Policy makers in Australia need to be very sure they are making the right decisions for Indigenous Australians when it comes to our futures. This is so especially true for education - because as we know, education is the enabler from which all of our life chances flow.

At a time when so many mistakes have been made in the past, it seems to me to be strikingly obvious that the utmost care should be taken so as not to perpetuate policy mistakes. On the bilingual score, a number of academics have made trenchant criticisms of the data on which the NT government has based its decision to abolish bilingual education. I fear we are watching another serious policy mistake in the making. And again, the families, the parents, and the students themselves are being ignored in this decision. Their pleas to preserve bilingual education for their children and future generations have been falling on deaf ears.

The impacts will be felt in higher education. The teachers who trained to work in these bilingual schools will no longer have this opportunity. The cultural knowledge specialists that I have just spoken about in Arnhem Land will also be ever reducing. And the loss will be for all of us – not just Indigenous people.

 Key messages for higher education. From a foundation of equal rights, Indigenous people are increasingly exercising rights. Financial assistance and top quality information are some of the requirements that help people to exercise their rights – especially those who are disadvantaged. Ultimately we need to respect and promote Indigenous knowledges and perspectives. They have much to offer all Australians.

So to conclude, my messages today are about expanding options for Indigenous people through higher education. From a foundation of equal rights, careful facilitation and assistance is required so that people are able to exercise their rights. And this takes time as we have seen in New Zealand and in Australia. Financial assistance and top quality information are some of the requirements that help people to exercise their rights – especially those who are disadvantaged.

And ultimately we need to respect and promote Indigenous knowledges and perspectives. They have much to offer all Australians. Tertiary education institutions exercise cultural leadership when they offer courses that are enriched by Indigenous knowledges and perspectives. This is reconciliation in action – so I urge all universities to make this a part of your university’s Reconciliation Action Plan .

 With concerted effort - great things can happen. Year 12 graduation ceremony of students from a remote Arnhem Land community.

Friends, to conclude can I ask you to please remember that, from self respect comes dignity, and from dignity comes hope.

And Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, from our oldest to our youngest, need hope so that we can develop resilience to thrive and to reach our true potential as the First Peoples of Australia.

Thank you


[1] Encyclopaedia Britannica, Sir Apirana Turupa Ngata biography. Encyclopaedia Britannica website. At: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/413440/Sir-Apirana-Turupa-Ngata (Viewed 27 November 2009)

[2] Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, ‘Attachment A - Summary of the 2008 Higher Education Student Statistics’, Students: Selected Higher Education Statistics , At: http://www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Publications/HEStatistics/Publications/Documents/2008/2008HigherEducationStudentStats.pdf (Viewed 27 November 2009)

[3] Lane J., Indigenous Participation in University Education , Centre of Independent Studies, p. 3, 2009. At: available on www.cis.org.au

[4] Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, ‘Attachment A - Summary of the 2008 Higher Education Student Statistics’, Students: Selected Higher Education Statistics , At: http://www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Publications/HEStatistics/Publications/Documents/2008/2008HigherEducationStudentStats.pdf (Viewed 27 November 2009)

[5] Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, ‘Attachment A - Summary of the 2008 Higher Education Student Statistics’, Students: Selected Higher Education Statistics , At: http://www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Publications/HEStatistics/Publications/Documents/2008/2008HigherEducationStudentStats.pdf (Viewed 27 November 2009)

[6] The Aurora Project, Website. At: http://www.auroraproject.com.au/charlie_perkins.htm (Viewed 2 December 2009)

[7] Bradley, D., Noonan P., Nugent H., Scales B., Review of Australian Higher Education, 2008 p. xviii. At: http://www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Review/Documents/PDF/Higher%20Education%20Review_one%20document_02.pdf (Viewed 3 December 2009)

[8] The Australian Indigenous Doctor’s Association, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Doctors and Students, September 2009. At: http://www.aida.org.au/pdf/Numbersofdoctors.pdf (Viewed 8 December 2009)

[9] Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Award Course Completions for Indigenous Students by Broad Field of Education, 2001 to 2008. DEEWR Website. At: http://www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Publications/HEStatistics/Publications/Documents/2008/2008AwardCourseCompletions.xls#Table15!A1 (Viewed 27 November 2009)

[10] Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Commencing and All Indigenous Students by Level of Course and Broad Field of Education, Full Year 2008. DEEWR Website. At: http://www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Publications/HEStatistics/Publications/Documents/2008/2008Indigenous.xls#'45'!A1 (Viewed 4 December 2009)

[11] NOTE: DEEWR data does not cross reference graduate data by subject area (engineering), with the names of the universities from which the students graduate. If this data was available then it would be possible to see whether the increases in graduates were in the NSW area – and possibly as a result of the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School. We cannot be certain.

[12] Engineering Aid Australia, website. At: http://www.engineeringaid.org/iaess/ (Viewed 2 December 2009)

[13] Engineering Aid Australia, website. At: http://www.engineeringaid.org/indigenous-engineers/ (Viewed 2 December 2009)

[14] Engineering Aid Australia, website. At: http://www.engineeringaid.org/ben-s-message/ (Viewed 2 December 2009

[15] Charles Darwin University, Teaching from Country Website. At: http://learnline.cdu.edu.au/inc/tfc/index.html (Viewed 23 May 2009)

[16] Charles Darwin University, Teaching from Country, Teaching from Country Website. At: http://learnline.cdu.edu.au/inc/tfc/docs/TFC_Seminar_PP_notes.pdf

[17] Savanna Explorer, North Australia Information Resource, West Arnhem Land Fire Project

West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement available online at: http://www.savanna.org.au/al/fire_abatement.html accessed 2 December 2008

[18] Green D., Garnaut Climate Change Review, Climate impacts on the health of remote northern Australian Indigenous Communities, 2008, p 8

[19] Green D., Garnaut Climate Change Review, Climate impacts on the health of remote northern Australian Indigenous Communities, 2008, p 14

[20] Bradley, D., Noonan P., Nugent H., Scales B., Review of Australian Higher Education, 2008 p. 32. At: http://www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Review/Documents/PDF/Higher%20Education%20Review_one%20document_02.pdf (Viewed 3 December 2009)

[21] McKenzie P., Kos J., Walker M., Hong J., Staff in Australian Schools 2007, Commonwealth of Australia 2008, p. 72. At: http://www.dest.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/1246540B-6D4A-4734-85FB-0C2C2D6D7F13/19904/SiASsurveydatareport2007.pdf (Viewed 8 December 2009)

[22]Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the Federation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages, National Indigenous Languages Survey Report 2005, Executive Summary. At http://www.arts.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/35637/nils-report-2005.pdf (Viewed 3 July 2009)

[23] Lo Bianco J., Organizing for Multilingualism: Ecological and Sociological Perspectives A TESOL Symposium on Keeping Language Diversity Alive, 2008, p11, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia, July 9, 2008

[24] Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the Federation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages, National Indigenous Languages survey 2005, p. 67. At http://www.arts.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/35637/nils-report-2005.pdf (Viewed 3 July 2009)

[25] Greene, J. P., A Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Bilingual Education, University of Texas at Austin, March 2, 1998. At: http://www.languagepolicy.net/archives/greene.htm (Viewed 21 April 2009).

[26] Rolstadt K., Mahoney K., Glass G. V., The Big Picture: A Meta-Analysis of Program effectiveness Research on English Language Learners, Educational Policy, 19 (4), 2005, pp 572-594. At: http://www.lmri.ucsb.edu/publications/06_gold.pdf (Viewed 1 December 2008)

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