Issue 9
Monday, 04 November 2019
Charles Darwin University
Dr Stephen Bolaji: setting the record straight about African Australians
Dr Stephen Bolaji: setting the record straight about African Australians

Conference examines African-Australian narratives

By Andrew Hall

CDU hosted the first scholarly conference to interrogate narratives surrounding Australian immigrants with African heritage, on Casuarina campus in October.

The “African-Australian Education and Health Narratives Colloquium” was conceived by Lecturer in Education (Graduate Program) Dr Stephen Bolaji to address growing concerns on the part of government, policymakers, and media about alleged “African gangs” in Australian cities. 

“The colloquium was about understanding ‘aspiration’ in the Australian context and from an African perspective,” Dr Bolaji said.

“Immigrants from African nations have benefitted immensely from opportunities provided by Australian society and the Federal Government. In the past five years, however, there’s been contention regarding perspectives and narratives of Africans in Australia, particularly in the areas of health and education. 

“It is important to be able to present these issues in a proper perspective in order to find out about the concept of ‘aspiration’ and develop ways to measure aspiration that are understood by African and non-African Australians.”

Dr Bolaji said that, historically, African parents regarded providing a good education for their children as the main role of a parent and encouraged their children to strive for excellence at every level of the education system.

“But this kind of aspiration is not necessarily an across-the-board way of thinking in Australia,” he said.

The “African-Australian Education and Health Narratives Colloquium” featured keynote speakers from African and Australian universities canvassing topics such as “Quality Education and the Nigerian dilemma: Imperatives for Counselling” and “Female leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for the Africa We Want”.

Dr Bolaji said the conference’s 25 presentations and four keynote speakers were well received by delegates and guests.

“We will now spend some time collating the research that was presented at the colloquium and will seek funding to stage a follow-up event in 2020,” he said.