Towards critical mass: work in progress at James Cook University

Courtenay, Patricia, and Gair, Susan (2009) Towards critical mass: work in progress at James Cook University. In: Frawley, Jack, Nolan, Maggie, and White, Nerada, (eds.) Indigenous Issues in Australian Universities. Charles Darwin University Press, Darwin, NT Australia, pp. 29-35.

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Abstract

Participating in higher education can contribute to redressing social and economic disadvantage for Indigenous Australians. Yet there are serious problems in Australia with respect to the retention and completion rates of Indigenous students in tertiary education. Wright (2005) argues that the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous participation in higher education has widened since the year 2000. Two recent national reports confirm there has been stalled progress for Indigenous students in higher education (IHEAC 2006; Krause, Hartley, Richard & McInnis 2005). Indigenous Australian students often may experience university study as foreign, alienating and irrelevant according to the IHEAC report (2006). At a local level, Yallamas (2002, p.18) reveals that according to the Department of Education, Science and Training, 'Indigenous enrolments at James Cook University (JCU) fell almost 40 per cent between 1999 and 2001'. James, Bexley, Devlin and Marginson (2006) report that, overall, there is an ongoing need to develop programmes to raise Indigenous people's participation and completion rates in higher education. In particular, IHEAC (2006) identify that there is an urgent need for ongoing specific strategies to improve the level of Indigenous student enrolments, and address attrition ofIndigenous students particularly in their first year of study. The need for improvement of the status of Indigenous culture, knowledge and studies in the curricula of Australian universities also was highlighted (IHEAC 2006, p13). Currently, small numbers of Indigenous students are graduating· from Australian universities. The majority of Indigenous students who have graduated from the Department of Social Work and Community Welfare at JCU have been mature-aged women with experience working in the welfare field but with no previous formal qualifications. Increased numbers of qualified Indigenous social work/welfare professionals are urgently needed to redress the otherwise quite 'homogenised' profession of social work in Australia.

Item ID: 10518
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
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ISBN: 978-1-921576-07-2
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2010 07:12
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160799 Social Work not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9303 Curriculum > 930399 Curriculum not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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