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‘They Think They Know Us Better’: Aboriginal Experiences of Education, Health and Employment in Contemporary South Australia

Dunnett, A (2021) ‘They Think They Know Us Better’: Aboriginal Experiences of Education, Health and Employment in Contemporary South Australia. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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The annual reports released by the Australian Government over the past ten years indicate that little progress has been made to address the gap in equality between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. It is in this context that this research adopts an ethnographical approach, and echoes the post-colonial turn in anthropology by placing the primary importance on the views of the Aboriginal Australians themselves and thus, allowing thick descriptions to be developed. This research places the voices of Aboriginal Australians at the centre of it, to understand their lived experiences within education, health and employment, which in turn identifies factors that impact the efforts of closing the gap in equality. Members of two Aboriginal communities in South Australia provided their in-depth perspectives, opinions and experiences about education, health and employment, while grounded theory helped to identify key factors impacting on these, namely the inclusion or exclusion of Aboriginal Australians in contemporary society and politics, the fragmentation of trust between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, and the importance of Aboriginal culture. The lived experiences of Aboriginal Australians provide examples and important explanations of how services and initiatives within education, health and employment are received, and highlight how they are interconnected in their everyday lives. The findings show that although current social services and initiatives are not necessarily failing to address the issues they target, the lived experiences of some Aboriginal Australians reflect that it is the fractious relationships between Aboriginal Australians, the Australian Government and wider Australian society that have a direct impact on their success. The research reveals that Aboriginal Australians’ reluctance to accept and access some health, education and employment services is a key problem, which results in the ineffectiveness of these services. This thesis illustrates why some services and initiatives available to the communities are not as effective as others, and suggests that Aboriginal culture is a significant underpinning factor present in successful services and initiatives, but less evident in those considered ineffective. The inclusion of the actual voices of members of two Aboriginal communities in South Australia helps to highlight key attributes of effective services and initiatives, which have enabled possible suggestions for improving the lived experiences of Aboriginal Australians, which in turn support the efforts in closing the gap in equality.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aboriginal Australians; Aboriginal Voice; South Australia; Social Policy; Ethnography
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
L Education > L Education (General)
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2020 12:33
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2022 15:58
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00014191
Supervisors: Krüger Bridge, S, Wilson, K and Sheldon, J
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14191
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