Indigenous Community Partnerships Across Country
Questioning What Counts
A doctoral study of a program designed to provide access to secondary education for children from a remote Indigenous community was completed in 2014 (Hunter, 2015). This paper reflects on the ongoing commitment of members of this community to a partnership that uses interstate boarding schools as a means of educating their children. It reviews the original longitudinal study that sought the viewpoints of the students, families, community leaders, teachers and schools involved, and uses the resources of spatial theory and place‑consciousness to argue the inadequacy of standardised understandings of success that are limited to measurable outcomes within short term policy cycles. Such views of success do not account for the effects of locational difference and disadvantage related to the intersection of health, education, and economic disadvantage that underpins ongoing national efforts to ‘close the gap’ between schooling outcomes for Indigenous and non‑Indigenous Australians. While the experience of boarding schooling raises unique challenges for Indigenous students, as well as for the schools, teachers and non‑Indigenous students who are also part of such programs, there is clear evidence that this form of education also presents valuable opportunities ‘both ways’, and that such partnerships may assist in efforts to decolonialise curriculum and schooling.
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