The role of Aboriginal literacy in improving English literacy in remote Aboriginal communities: an empirical systems analysis with the Interplay Wellbeing Framework

Byron Wilson, Stephen J. Quinn, Tammy Abbott, Sheree Cairney

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Indigenous language endangerment is critical in Australia, with only 120 of 250 known languages remaining, and only 13 considered strong. A related issue is the gap in formal education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared with other Australians, with the gap wider in remote regions. Little empirical research exists in Australia to explore the role of developing Aboriginal literacy through bilingual education to address these combined issues. As a ‘shared space’ collaboration between remote communities, government, and scientists, the Interplay Wellbeing Framework and associated Survey were designed to represent community values and priorities in a quantifiable system to inform policy and practice. A cohort of 842 Aboriginal people aged 15–34 years from four remote communities completed individual surveys designed and administered by Aboriginal community researchers. We applied structural equation modelling to this data to understand the role of cultural indicators on education outcomes. Results confirmed the importance of strong relationships between community and schools. Furthermore, learning about culture and learning literacy in ones first language in schools to develop Aboriginal literacy, is established as a necessary step to improve English literacy in remote schools. This suggests bilingual education and strengthening culture and community involvement in schools are necessary to improve both education outcomes and language preservation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalEducational Research for Policy and Practice
    Volume17
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

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