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 Malin & Maidment: Volume 32 (2003)

Education, Indigenous Survival and Well-Being: Emerging Ideas and Programs

Merridy Malin & Debra Maidment

The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education Vol. 32, 2003, pp. 85-100.

This paper presents a snapshot of concerns in the field of Indigenous education in the late 1960s as compared with those of today, highlighting areas of improvement. Indigenous people's aspirations are not being met and the gaps between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations on all major educational indicators are unacceptably large. These gaps are mirrored in other areas of social and physical well-being, including life expectancy and employment. Research demonstrates the inter-relationships between education, health, unemployment, poverty, and general social disadvantage, exposing social barriers to learning. We describe two small-scale educational programs, which are tailored to the needs of the Aboriginal participants and which aim to assist families through education, mentoring and community development processes to work towards practical ways for meeting their long-term aspirations. The holistic nature of the programs helps people to overcome the social barriers, which have impeded their learning in the past. Synchronised inter-agency, inter-departmental collaboration is required by such programs, which are intensive and expensive to run. But USA Project Head Start, which is similarly intensive and expensive, has demonstrated long-term benefits to society and the participants, which far outweigh the original costs in terms of savings in the areas of criminal justice, welfare, and health.

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