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Curtin University
Centre For Aboriginal Studies

Honours Graduates 2015

Student Honours Research Abstract
Patrick Cooke First class honours

Indigenous youth programs are widespread across Australia and many are being delivered from a non-Indigenous perspective on behalf of Indigenous people for the betterment of Indigenous people. However, there is limited literature on the core principles of sustainable grassroots Indigenous youth programs; therefore this research explores what participants consider to be the key elements through a case study approach.

Using an Indigenist methodological standpoint, discussions with Elders from the Mount Isa region led to a clear and appropriate research design approach. This collaborative, Indigenous led research was undertaken with a focus group and yarning circles organised with the direction of community Elders and youth from the area. In addition, an Aboriginal corporation shared their experiences and perceptions as a key stakeholder in the research.

Three main underpinning principles emerged from these yarning circles. Key stakeholders involved in the Mona Aboriginal Corporation’s youth programs made a contribution to the current gap in research on building more sustainable grassroots Indigenous youth programs.

Alex Woodcock First class honours with mention on the VC’s list for outstanding results 

An Indigenous interpretive approach, the research gathers stories on Kozan for the purpose of giving meaning to these stories through the eyes and minds of Indigenous people.

Constructing an understanding and explanation of the ontology and epistemology of Indigenous people living under a colonial discourse was omnipotent. Stories of empowerment, resilience, determination, resistance and visions for the future are told.  These stories serve to explain, understand and celebrate the survival and outlook for Kozan.

Designed by an Indigenous researcher together with Indigenous participants, the cornerstone for the research was essentially the people, their life experiences, world views and aspirations. Using a mixture of interpretive methods underpinned by an ‘Indigenist’ research approach, the telling of Kozan stories begin to unfold.  Relational and reflexivity permeates the research with an overarching obligation that privileges the voices of the people.

Indigenous research theories expounded by Standpoint Theory complements intersecting methodologies and concepts espoused by Indigenous academics and researchers in prescribing the use of research methods. Interpretive tools of inquiry of participatory action research, ethnography and narrative inquiry were chosen for use in different ways to obtain stories and information.  Content analysis and thematic analysis identified categories and themes of meaning behind the Kozan stories.

Aligning, contesting and resisting the ‘other’, that is, Western research is explained and understood within an Indigenous paradigm. Positioning of the Indigenous researcher within the knowledge system was paramount.  Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing are prominent.  Moreover, looking through decolonising lens the research tests a hypothesis regarding strategic planning within an Indigenous context.

An invitation is extended herewith to the unveiling of Kozan stories.  Giving from the heart to the hearts of many is a way of life. Unlike colonial discourses that take from others, the word of Kozan was chosen from the heart, meaning to give to others.  This is their story.

Derrick Vale Upper second class honours, meaning he can also go on to doctorate level studies 

This dissertation involves research into how Aboriginal life and Aboriginal Community Development in Bowraville has changed, improved and how effective Community Development was before and since the Bowraville murders. This study will place the knowledge of Gumbayngirr (Aboriginal) people in Bowraville at the center of understandings and meaning of this town. It is envisioned that this research project will provide a document of Bowraville today as a resource for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community members as well as service providers who work within this town. In addition, the dissertation is a document for Bowraville Gumbayngirr people to give account of their struggles and lives today.

This research was qualitative in nature with narrative and ethnographic research methods because it suits the Gumbayngirr people, as the goal of ethnographic research is "to understand another way of life from the native point of view", Spradley 1997, combined with Yarning and participant observation. Different types of Yarning which included Social Yarning, Research Yarning, Collaborative Yarning and Therapeutic Yarning (Bessarab & Ng’andu 2010) was utilised.

The research revealed 3 main themes, Racism, Opportunities as well as Life and Culture. Racism is a touchy subject in today’s society, although it is the first thing that comes to the participant’s minds when speaking of how life is in Bowraville. Opportunities are spoken about throughout the research but takes on many forms. Life and in spite of colonial oppressive ways.

It begins to shine a different shade of light into the ways of life of the Gumbayngirr people of Bowraville. With a broad understanding of self-awareness and responsibilities’ to their own community the participants pull no punches and have no regards towards sugarcoating anything when yarning about Bowraville. This makes this a realisation document for all to consume giving power to the people, not taking it away.