Towards a decolonizing practice: a qualitative inquiry informed by non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders working together

Howard, Rosalie Anne (2015) Towards a decolonizing practice: a qualitative inquiry informed by non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders working together. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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From 1788, the colonization of Australia meant forcibly imposed white Westminster knowledges, systems, values, beliefs, rules and regulations. The knowledges, values, beliefs and Lores of the Indigenous inhabitants were overturned, ignored and denied. Dominant western narratives of white 'settlement' provided the foundations for non-Indigenous practices ranging from 'control' and the assimilative 'stolen generations', to the criminal atrocities that supported non-Indigenous people's 'acquisition' of Aboriginal Land. As a result, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander worldviews became pushed into the background, and white western ways became entrenched, establishing the context for current relationships between many Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Consequently, various systems of service delivery in Australia including social services, education and health services have been infused with invisible power and privilege at their core. This is the 'inheritance' of non-Indigenous practitioners in Australia, to the detriment of many Indigenous peoples and communities.

Methodologically, the inquiry has been guided Martin (2008) and her Quampie methodology. Critical race theory and whiteness studies were found to provide an appropriate lens for the study. Data was narratively contributed during sixteen interviews that were conducted with Indigenous and non-Indigenous professionals. Locations included the remote settings of Northeast Arnhemland, Cape York and Torres Straits, and the urban settings of Cairns and Darwin. Many of the Cairns participants also lived and worked in Cape York.

These contributors have described the core elements that frame a culturally-secure practice paradigm. The findings reveal that decolonizing practices would be made up of a number of processes underpinned by respect for Indigenous sovereignty, and responsibility and accountability for one's own engagement. For non-Indigenous practitioners this would require active interrogation of their own standpoint, worldview and practice framework, and deep critical reflection on questions of 'what they do, how they do it and why they do it that way'. Such reflexivity has the potential to inform other Ways of Knowing, Being and Doing.

During this research I have sought to demonstrate, create and enact the space required for a practice grounded in relatedness with Indigenous worldviews. The processes described here represent my respect, responsibilities and accountabilities to many Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders who contributed to this research and to my own deep reflections as a practitioner. This research demonstrates the journey and the decolonizing standpoint needed for improved non-Indigenous social work practice and related health services in areas of service provision, social policy, and community work. It is framed by critical, ethical and socially-just ways of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Item ID: 41587
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Aboriginal Australians; being; connectedness; connection; decolonization; decolonization; decolonizing; decolonizing; doing; First Australians; identity; Indigenous Australians; knowing; knowledge; non-Aboriginal Australians; non-Indigenous Australians; practice; relatedness; relationship; Torres Strait Islanders
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2015 07:21
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160803 Race and Ethnic Relations @ 33%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169902 Studies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Society @ 34%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160899 Sociology not elsewhere classified @ 33%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 33%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 34%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940102 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Development and Welfare @ 33%
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