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Empowerment is the Basis for Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for Aboriginal People in Remote Australia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2018

Byron Wilson*
Affiliation:
The Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation, Charles Darwin University, Brinkin, NT 0909, Australia
Tammy Abbott
Affiliation:
The Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation, Charles Darwin University, Brinkin, NT 0909, Australia
Stephen J. Quinn
Affiliation:
Department of Statistics, Data Science and Epidemiology, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, VIC 3122, Australia
John Guenther
Affiliation:
Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Darwin, NT 0845, Australia
Eva McRae-Williams
Affiliation:
Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Darwin, NT 0845, Australia
Sheree Cairney
Affiliation:
The Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation, Charles Darwin University, Brinkin, NT 0909, Australia
*
address for correspondence: Byron Wilson, The Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation, Charles Darwin University, Brinkin, NT 0909, Australia. Email: byron.wilson2@menzies.edu.au
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Abstract

In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people score poorly on national mainstream indicators of wellbeing, with the lowest outcomes recorded in remote communities. As part of a ‘shared space’ collaboration between remote Aboriginal communities, government and scientists, the holistic Interplay Wellbeing Framework and accompanying survey were designed bringing together Aboriginal priorities of culture, empowerment and community with government priorities of education, employment and health. Quantitative survey data were collected from a cohort of 841 Aboriginal people aged 15–34 years, from four different Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal community researchers designed and administered the survey. Structural equation modelling was used to identify the strongest interrelating pathways within the framework. Optimal pathways from education to employment were explored with the concept of empowerment playing a key role. Here, education was defined by self-reported English literacy and numeracy and empowerment was defined as identity, self-efficacy and resilience. Empowerment had a strong positive impact on education (β = 0.38, p < .001) and strong correlation with employment (β = 0.19, p < .001). Education has a strong direct effect on employment (β = 0.40, p < .001). This suggests that education and employment strategies that foster and build on a sense of empowerment are mostly likely to succeed, providing guidance for policy and programs.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s) 2018 

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