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"I tell ya who needs educatin’”: non-Indigenous cultural self-awareness and prisoner education.

conference contribution
posted on 2023-03-02, 22:11 authored by Roslyn Carnes
Glen says, “current education is colonial; it ain’t ours. I tell ya who needs educatin’, wadjellas”. Glen is a Noongar man who, along with several other Aboriginal adults living in Western Australia, teaches me in a PhD research project about prisoner education from their perspective. His words pose a question for wadjellas like myself who are raised, taught and work in a white neo-colonial society. We have been raised in, taught in and work in a colonial system. As non-Aboriginal people we have unearned privileges which are often invisible and unacknowledged. How then to address the outcomes of this in a way that might lead to working co-operatively alongside Aboriginal people? What kind of ‘educatin’ could teach us about our own unacknowledged privilege and the disadvantage this can lead to for others? Is the standard cross-cultural awareness training enough?
This paper shares some of the teachings of Glen and other participants in this research. It expresses the view that, ultimately, the usually unacknowledged legacy of colonisation and associated issue of denied Aboriginal sovereignty lies at the heart of much of the disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal people today when considering education and the prison system. Addressing gaps in non-Indigenous cultural self-awareness by learning from Aboriginal people is an important factor in improving their experiences of education.



Pacific International Hotel, Cairns, The Cairns Institute, James Cook University.

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This was completed while affiliated with Murdoch University

Publication classification

E1.1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2012, James Cook University


N Gopalkrishnan, H Babacan

Title of proceedings

Third International Conference on Racisms in the New World Order: Realities of Culture, Colour and Identity Conference Proceedings

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