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 History


Beginning in 1973 as The Aboriginal Child at School, the journal was a practical response to a recommendation made at the National Workshop on Aboriginal Education held in May 1971 "that a periodical publication be commenced to provide a medium for the exchange of ideas and developments in the teaching of Aborigines, for the examination of practical implications of research findings and for the recording of Aboriginal achievements” (Watts, 1973, p. 2). Funded by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Canberra and housed in the Department of Education and later the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit at the University of Queensland, The Aboriginal Child at School was published at two monthly intervals. It aimed to provide a medium whereby teachers in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education could share their thinking and their strategies for successful teaching and thereby enter into a meaningful and productive dialogue with one another (Watts, 1973, p. 2). An overarching concern of the journal was to improve and optimise children’s development and the types of pedagogies employed to provide challenging and rewarding learning experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The journal was enthusiastically embraced by a broad range of professionals and proved to be a useful resource for both experienced and beginning teachers, particularly in the primary sector.

From its infancy then, The Aboriginal Child at School played an important role in responding to the challenging and urgent tasks facing teachers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children through the publication of practical information and support; provision of insight and direction in relation to specific problems; fostering research and publication of findings in relevant areas; and acting as a national forum for discussion designed to be an “inspiration to the class teacher, and to that end to be a factor in creating for Aboriginal children a future of dignity” (Beazley, 1973, p. 4). The Aboriginal Child at School gave voice to the hope that Aboriginal education should arise from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander initiatives and be expressive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, languages and culture.

In 1996 The Aboriginal Child at School was transformed into The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education and reduced to two issues per year. The decision was made to change the title as a result of feedback from educators involved in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and also to reflect a broadening of the content of the journal to include international perspectives. The other major factor prompting this decision was the termination of Commonwealth Government funding for The Aboriginal Child at School which ensured that every school with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Australia received a free copy of the journal. From 1996 onwards all subscriptions have been financial to help offset the considerable cost of producing and distributing the journal. Since 1996 the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit at the University of Queensland has heavily subsidised production of AJIE.

In 2003, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the journal, the decision was taken to relaunch AJIE as a peer reviewed research journal to reflect changes in readership demand for quality work and to address dwindling contributions. In 2003 two volumes of AJIE were published and from 2004 onwards AJIE has appeared annually, and is accompanied by a supplementary issue on special themes.

AJIE has played a vital role in raising awareness of educational issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; fostering debate amongst researchers, government representatives and community groups; and sharing stories of success between both Indigenous and non-Indigenous practitioners positioned in the broad area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. The dialogue which has taken place in AJIE over the past 30 years maps out the social, political and cultural history of Indigenous education in Australia, and draws attention to the shifting paradigms, problems and practical outcomes. In 2012 AJIE begun an exciting new future with Cambridge University Press.

Past Editors

1973-1982
Betty Watts

1983-1994
Dawn Muir

1995
Michael Williams, Penny Tripcony, Dawn Muir

1996
Michael Williams, Penny Tripcony, Christine Stratigos, Jo Lampert (Acting)

1997
Michael Williams, Jackie Huggins, Christine Stratigos

1998
Michael Williams, Jackie Huggins

1999
Michael Williams, John Budby (Acting)

2000
Michael Williams, Jackie Huggins

2001
Michael Williams, Jackie Huggins, Polly Walker (Acting)

2002
Michael Williams, Jackie Huggins

2003-2010
Elizabeth Mackinlay, Jackie Huggins

2011-present
Elizabeth Mackinlay, Martin Nakata