Publication Details

Wray, D. Elizabeth. (2008). A Meaningful Exchange: The Benefits of Aboriginal community participation in the NSW HSC Aboriginal Studies course.. In P. Jeffrey (Eds.), AARE 2008 Conference Papers Collection [Proceedings] (p. 12 pages). Melbourne: The Australian Association for Research in Education.


For Aboriginal students, the involvement of Aboriginal community members inschools has long been seen as a contributing factor in valuing and promoting theirAboriginality and identity. Whilst non-Aboriginal students are given opportunitiesto interact with Aboriginal people within schools, for many, it could be their firstcontact with an Aboriginal person. An important aspect of the NSW HSCAboriginal Studies course is the links it provides to Aboriginal communities. Thispaper focuses exclusively on an element of a larger investigation into the benefits ofthe NSW HSC Aboriginal Studies course for Aboriginal students. Results presentedhere relate specifically to a research question into the strengths and limitations ofthe Aboriginal Studies course. Interviews were undertaken in three NSWDepartment of Education and Training secondary schools, located in rural, northcoast, and south coast areas of NSW. A total of 36 participants: 22 senior secondarystudents who were undertaking the HSC Aboriginal Studies course, 18 Aboriginalstudents and 4 non-Aboriginal students, Aboriginal Education Assistants (n = 3),teachers of the HSC Aboriginal Studies course (n = 5), and Principals (n = 3) andAboriginal parents (n = 3) of students undertaking Aboriginal Studies were involvedin individual interviews. Participants were asked, What do you see as the strengthsof the Aboriginal Studies course? Across responses a significant finding was thebenefits derived for all involved in Aboriginal Studies; students, teachers, parentsand the community, from the continued involvement of Aboriginal community, bothin and outside of the classroom. Hence, the participation of Aboriginal communitiesgoes much further; it has become a meaningful exchange of knowledge andexperiences, engaging students and teachers in the lives of Aboriginal people.