Australian Indigenous Contexts and Childhood Experiences

Abawi, Lindy-Anne ORCID: and Cooper, Megan and Andersen, Cecily and Fossey, Wayne and Holborn, Priscilla (2018) Australian Indigenous Contexts and Childhood Experiences. Oxford Bibliographies (April). pp. 1-30.


In Australia, people from an Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander background are often collectively referred to as Australian Indigenous peoples. This can be problematic because of the vast diversity of people falling under this heading. Since colonization, markers of social disadvantage for Australian Indigenous children continue to be a concern, and government efforts to address the issues have been sporadic and largely ineffective. The 2017 Closing the Gap report showed Indigenous attendance rates in government schools were 10 percent lower than non-Indigenous rates in all grades overall, with attendance rates dropping further in remote locations. The report also showed that the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at or above the national minimum standards in reading and numeracy showed no statistically significant improvement nationally, thus maintaining the marked gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, which again is much greater in remote areas. Australian Bureau of Statistics data in the area of health showed that, based on standardized proportions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were twice as likely as non-Indigenous children to have asthma, more likely than non-Indigenous children to have diseases of the ear and/or hearing problems, more likely than non-Indigenous people to have heart or circulatory diseases, and three times as likely as non-Indigenous children to get diabetes later in life. But do statistics portray the true story of Australian Indigenous childhood experiences? This sort of deficit discourse creates a homogeneous and shallow understanding of the reality. For example, the language used within such benchmarking reports is itself problematic. Policies underpinning such reports position Indigenous people as being somehow 'deficient,' whereas it is better to assess needs according to context rather than on a comparative basis. Extending understandings of social markers, and allowing the rich milieu of Australian Indigenous families to be valued, helps to build a new discourse underpinned by positive recognition of, and pride in, Australian Indigenous cultures. In order to present a comprehensive picture of Australian Aboriginal childhood today, the texts that have been selected for this bibliography are contextualized under a number of themes. Some themes may seem only indirectly related to childhood studies, but each has been chosen because the texts within throw light onto the rich tapestry of what influences Australian Indigenous childhood experiences. The first of these themes is the 'cultural interface,' a theory underpinning the perspectives of the authors’ of this article, on the intersection between culture and society for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Restricted access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - No Department (1 Jul 2013 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - No Department (1 Jul 2013 -)
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2018 06:10
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2022 03:44
Uncontrolled Keywords: Australian Indigenous; Aboriginal; Torres Strait Islander; childhoods
Fields of Research (2008): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1603 Demography > 160301 Family and Household Studies
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education
Fields of Research (2020): 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4403 Demography > 440301 Family and household studies
45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4502 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education > 450299 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 92 Health > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920399 Indigenous Health not elsewhere classified
C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930201 Pedagogy
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australia's Past
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