“What are Nice Guys like them doing in a Place like that?”- Education Journeys from Australian Indigenous Students in Custody

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Indigenous Australians have been the subject of long-term disadvantage and discrimination. They are “nearly 16 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous people” (Council of Social Service of New South Wales, 2006, p. 1). Just over one third of Indigenous prisoners have completed primary education as compared to just 16% of non-Indigenous prisoners (Rawnsley, 2003, p. 19). The majority of Indigenous people in custody have little opportunity to intervene in the offending cycle because they lack the education tools. Since 2000 our university has offered a Tertiary Entry Program (TEP) specifically designed for Australian Indigenous people who wish to gain the necessary skills for successful university study. The university has a growing Indigenous student cohort at various correctional institutions across Australia. As lecturers in the program, we sought to look beneath the shocking statistical reality and better understand our students. This was a qualitative research study to explore the education journeys of our students in one, local correctional centre. The project investigated the lived realities of our students from early education experiences through to their current studies. We asked; “Do we know our students and where they come from and is this relevant to effective teaching?” We sought to understand how their experiences of formal educational settings impacted on their current learning. While we adapt our program to accommodate the rigours of the correctional system and to provide our students with the best possible learning experience, we questioned how we could improve what we do. This paper explores aspects of student education journeys. Our students represent a fragile, double equity group, that of Australian Indigenous men in custody.


Keywords: Prison, Education Experiences, Australian Indigenous Students
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: “What are Nice Guys Like them doing in a Place Like that?”


Vicki Adele Pascoe

Lecturer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Nulloo Yumbah - Indigenous Learning, Spirituality and Research Centre, Central Queensland University
Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia

Vicki Pascoe is currently a lecturer at Nulloo Yumbah, Central Queensland University’s Indigenous Learning Spirituality and Research Centre. Vicki is also a PhD student at CQU in the areas of Sociology and Health. Vicki’s research is concerned with the experiences of overseas trained medical doctors in rural and remote Queensland. Vicki is a registered teacher in Queensland and has spent over a decade teaching in Organisational and Personal Communication, Indigenous Australian Studies, Indigenous Education, Sociology and Adult Education in the TAFE and University sectors. Vicki has also completed a BA in Sociology and Aboriginal Studies, a Grad. Cert. in Organisational Development and Training, a Grad. Dip. in Adult Education and Training.

Kylie Radel

Lecturer in Marketing, Faculty of Business & Infomatics, Central Queensland University
Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia

Kylie Radel is a lecturer in marketing and tourism and has also spent 18 months with Nulloo Yumbah – Central Queensland University’s Indigenous Learning, Spirituality and Research centre as a lecturer with the Tertiary Entry Program. Kylie is currently completing a doctorate which aims to examine success factors for an Indigenous tourism enterprise from the staff perspectives. Kylie’s research interests include Indigenous tourism, tourism, marketing, small and medium enterprises, education in marketing and tourism, socio-cultural issues for Indigenous Australians and Indigenous research methodologies.

Ref: L08P0214