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  • Cultural Factors Affecting Tertiary Education Access for Bundjalung Men

    Todd Phillips

    Bachelor of Education (Primary)

    Student Number: N05367808

    Principal Supervisor: Dr Bronwyn Ewing

    Associate Supervisor: Professor Tom Cooper

    Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of

    Master of Education (Research) (ED12)

    Centre for Learning Innovation

    Faculty of Education

    Queensland University of Technology

    July 2012

  • Cultural Factors Affecting Tertiary Education Access for Bundjalung Men i

    Keywords

    Bundjalung

    Bundjalung Jugun (Bundjalung Country/Nation)

    Bundjalung Yanha (Bundjalung Way/Learning)

    Deadly

    Fella

    Gammin

    Gumbaynggir

    Indigenist

    Indigenous

    Indigenous knowledges

    Indigenous Standpoint Theory

    Jarjums

    Koori

    Mob

    Murri

    Tribe

    Widjabul

    Yaegl

    Yarn

    Yarning

    Yugem

  • Cultural Factors Affecting Tertiary Education Access for Bundjalung Men iii

    Abstract

    Despite documented changes to mainstream educational systems, Indigenous

    educational achievements are still at critically low levels across all phases of formal

    education. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011) Indigenous

    students are still less likely than non-Indigenous students to complete their final

    years of schooling (45% compared with 77% in 2009); tertiary level entry and

    outcomes are also significantly lower than non-Indigenous entry and outcomes.

    Although significant research has focused on the area of Indigenous education,

    in particular, identifying and making recommendations on how to close educational

    gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, these studies have failed to

    bring about the change needed and to engage successfully with Indigenous

    communities and draw on Indigenous communities insights for best practice.

    This thesis focuses on Indigenous perspectives and takes a closer look at the cultural

    factors that impact on tertiary education access for Indigenous young men who come from

    a Bundjalung community on the far north coast of northern New South Wales. To date,

    this community has not been the focus of serious postgraduate study. Their experiences

    and the values and ideas of their community have not been investigated.

    To do this, the study uses an Indigenous methodological framework. It draws

    on Indigenous Standpoint Theory to analyse data through concepts of the cultural

    interface and tensions (Nakata, 2007, pp. 195-217). The studys framing also draws

    on decolonising methods (Porsanger, 2004; Smith, 1999) and Indigenist research

    methods (Rigney, 1997). Such methodologies are intended to benefit both the

    research participants (community members) and the researcher. In doing so, the

    study draws on Creswells (2008) methods of restorying and retelling to analyse the

  • iv Cultural Factors Affecting Tertiary Education Access for Bundjalung Men

    participants interviews and yarns about their lives and experiences relating to

    tertiary educational access.

    The research process occurred in multiple stages: (1) selection of research sites,

    (2) granting of access which was requested through consultation with local

    Aboriginal Elders and through the local Aboriginal Lands Council, (3) conducting of

    interviews with participants/ data collection, (4) analysis of data, (5) documentation

    of findings, (6) theory development, and (7) reporting back to the nominated

    Indigenous community on the progress and findings of the research.

    The benefits of this research are numerous. First, this study addresses an issue

    that has been identified from within the local Aboriginal community as an issue of

    high precedence, looking at the cultural factors surrounding the underrepresentation of

    Indigenous people accessing tertiary education. This is not only of local significance

    but has been identified in the literature as a local, national and international area of

    concern amongst Indigenous peoples (Department of Economic and Social Affairs,

    2009; Herbert, 2010; King, 2011). Secondly, the study draws on local Indigenous

    knowledges and learning processes from within a Bundjalung community to gain

    inside perspectives, namely the cultural factors that are being expressed from a range

    of Indigenous community members young men, community Elders and community

    members and finding out what they perceive inhibit and/or promote tertiary

    education participation within their community. Such perspectives are rarely heard.

    Finally, recommendations made from this study are aimed at revealing investigative

    styles that may be utilised by Western institutions to improve access for Indigenous

    young men living in the Narlumdarlum1 region in the tertiary context.

    1 A pseudonym has been used for the place name (see Terminology and Protocols).

  • Cultural Factors Affecting Tertiary Education Access for Bundjalung Men v

    Table of Contents

    Keywords ................................................................................................................................................. i

    Abstract ................................................................................................................................................. iii

    Table of Contents .................................................................................................................................... v

    List of Figures ..................................................................................................................................... viii

    List of Abbreviations .............................................................................................................................. ix

    Statement of Original Authorship .......................................................................................................... xi

    Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................................. xiii

    Acknowledgement of Country .............................................................................................................. xv

    Bundjalung Jugun................................................................................................................................. xvi

    Terminology and Protocols ................................................................................................................ xvii

    PREAMBLE .................................................................................................................................... 1

    Bundjalung Yanha Bundjalung Way/Learning .................................................................................... 1

    Learning Places ....................................................................................................................................... 3Camp Bundjalung ........................................................................................................................ 4

    Learning Practices ................................................................................................................................... 7

    Western Learning .................................................................................................................................... 8

    High School ........................................................................................................................................... 10

    Tertiary Education ................................................................................................................................. 12Challenges at tertiary education ................................................................................................. 13

    Implications for Thesis .......................................................................................................................... 14

    CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................... 17

    1.1 Background of the Study ........................................................................................................... 171.1.1 Current concern .............................................................................................................. 181.1.2 Transition ........................................................................................................................ 191.1.3 Identity ............................................................................................................................ 20

    1.2 Research Questions .................................................................................................................... 21

    1.3 Research Design ........................................................................................................................ 22

    1.4 Significance ............................................................................................................................... 24

    1.5 Thesis Outline ............................................................................................................................ 26

    CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ....................................................................................... 29

    2.1 Current Issues and Concern