Australian Shame and Government ‘Intervention’ in Remote Indigenous Communities: Politics, Policy and Practice Implications for Health and Education of Australian Indigenous People

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The paper presents an overview and commentary of the recent radical government intervention into remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory of Australia. In 2007 the liberal government of the day finally responded to repeated calls to acknowledge the widespread sexual abuse of young Indigenous children in remote communities in the Northern Territory of Australia. The subsequent ‘rush to intervene’ policy and practice caused deep divisions in Indigenous communities. It generated widespread debate and reflection as the nation confronted the shameful reality that in the 21st century Australian Indigenous people were experiencing continued deteriorating health and educational standards.

The paper explains how the neo-colonial discourses of this health ‘intervention’ echo colonising literacy educational policy and practice. Education ‘interventions’, led by government bureaucrats in the Northern Territory, are dismissive of Indigenous students’ linguistic and cultural diversity, the realities of remote communities and the students’ life trajectories. Teachers, who carry out the ‘interventions’, are poorly equipped to understand the complexities of remote Indigenous communities and so the cycle of educational disenfranchisement continues. The paper concludes by sharing some of the new holistic well-being-of-community conversations that are interrupting toxic colonial educational and health ‘intervention’ discourses.


Keywords: Education,, Indigenous, Literacy
Stream: First Nations and Indigenous Peoples
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr Jan Connelly

Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of New England
Armidale, New South Wales, Australia

Dr Jan Connelly is an academic in the field of Education. She has written and researched about teachers and their practices in the field of language and literacy. The focuses she takes inside contexts of linguistic and cultural diversity, relate to curriculum, classroom pedagogy and assessment.

Jan has extensive experience in schools and universities in Australia and Hong Kong. She has carried out in-depth research in Indigenous communities in New South Wales and the Northern Territory, and is closely monitoring and commenting on the current policies and practices surround Indigenous educational issues in Australia.

Ref: H08P0448