Delegates explore ways to boost Indigenous participation


Professor Steven Larkin … Share ideas, facilitate learning, contemplate a way forward.

Professor Steven Larkin … Share ideas, facilitate learning, contemplate a way forward.

A leading Indigenous academic expects a conference in Darwin this week will spark a national conversation about ways to improve university study prospects among Indigenous Australians.

Charles Darwin University Pro-Vice Chancellor Indigenous Leadership Professor Steven Larkin will be one of several prominent academics to address the two-day conference, hosted at the Australian Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Education (ACIKE) on Casuarina campus.

“We are determined to take the next step to unlock the capacity of the large number of Indigenous people who have the potential, but not the access, to higher education in Australia,” Professor Larkin said.

“This forum will provide delegates with an opportunity to explore innovative approaches that incorporate Indigenous knowledges and practices into the development of strategies that will inspire people to attend university.

“In my paper, I will contend that institutional change must take place among the tertiary sector to facilitate greater Indigenous participation, and point out the fragility of the argument that the onus rests solely with students.”

Professor Colleen Hayward AM, Professor Lester-Irrabinna Rigney and Professor Martin Nakata also will address an issue central to Indigenous pathways and transitions into higher education.

“Through the keynotes, paper presentations, yarning circles and posters, we will share research, perspectives and ideas, facilitate some learning and contemplate a way forward.”

Professor Larkin said a special issue of the Northern Institute’s journal Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts had been prepared to coincide with the forum.

“It includes a collection of peer-reviewed scholarly papers dedicated to the topic of Indigenous pathways and transitions into higher education,” he said.

“And we are about to enter into a publishing contract for a book that brings together national and international researchers, scholars, policy-makers, practitioners, professionals and citizens who have an interest or experience in Indigenous pathways and transitions into higher education.

“The book will aim to critically discuss widening participation questions and issues through a focus on policies, strategies, initiatives, research and experience.”

Professor Larkin said the conference was the result of a successful bid by CDU to the achievements and successes of the many Indigenous-specific projects funded by the Australian Government’s Higher Education Participation Programme.

Engagement at the Interface: Indigenous pathways and transitions into higher education will be held at Charles Darwin University’s ACIKE precinct, Casuarina Campus on 22-23 October.
Conference website: W:
Learning Communities Journal: W:


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