Educational Research for Policy and Practice

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 75–97 | Cite as

Aboriginal people’s aspirations and the Australian Curriculum: a critical analysis

  • Chloe ParkinsonEmail author
  • Tiffany Jones
Original Article


A culturally inclusive curriculum has increasingly been considered beneficial to all students. The national Australian Curriculum set out to be inclusive, containing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures cross-curriculum priority. Some education discourses can assume however that inclusion is an unproblematic good, and a true representation of the ‘reality’ of Aboriginal Peoples’ lived experiences and aspirations. This article presents a study exploring how the aspirations of Aboriginal people are supported in dominant education discourses mobilised within the Australian Curriculum. The study firstly applied Critical Discourse Analysis to the Curriculum policy corpus, to explore the Indigenous education discourses privileged and marginalised within it. It then utilised informant interviews with members of an Aboriginal community, to explore their education aspirations for the community’s children. The results revealed a critical gap between the Curriculum’s positioning of Aboriginal knowledges, histories and cultures; and the Aboriginal community’s aspirations for their children’s education. They highlight the need for the Curriculum to offer critical-oriented learning opportunities whilst remaining flexible, to support localised aspirations and approaches.


Curriculum Indigenous education Discourse Aspiration 



Special acknowledgement must go to the people of Elliott, and particularly Traditional Owner Heather Wilson for her continued encouragement and support.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia
  2. 2.ARC DECRA Fellow, Department of Educational StudiesMacquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia

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