A new politics of colonisation: Recent aboriginal education policies in Australia

Dianne Snow
Vol 12, Number 1-2, p.36
Damning criticism has, however, come from Linda Burney, President of the New South Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, and Eleanor Bourke, Director of the Kaurna Higher Education Centre at the University of Adelaide. Soon after the policy was released Burney mounted a scathing attack on what she described as 'the absence of an Aboriginal education philosophy' in the document. Such a philosophy was, she continued, present in the Report tabled by the Task Force that had been established to provide guidelines for constructing the national policy. The reason for this shift, she concluded, was that Aboriginal personnel were not involved in formulating the final policy. Bourke presented a similar case not long after, pointing out that while the Report of the Task Force emerged from a group of well known and respected Aboriginal people, the national policy was constructed by non-Aboriginal bureaucrats with the occasional assistance of junior Aboriginal staff. While both Bourke and Burney point to important differences between the Report of the Task Force and the National Policy which eventually emerged, neither provide any detailed analysis of either document. It is this sort of analysis that I want to focus on here, with a view to clarifying further the differences between the two documents and what the implications of this difference are for future action.