Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Christopher Sonn

Second Advisor

Keith Truscott


In a history characterized by dispossession and oppression since colonisation, the responses of Aboriginal people to oppression have typically been presented from an ethnocentric perspective of internalization and assimilation. Another body of literature however, suggests alternative responses to non-dominant status such as resistance and adaptation to oppression. This study sought to investigate the ways in which Aboriginal adolescents respond to the negative messages they receive about being Aboriginal and the implications for their developing sense of identity, within a sociopolitical framework. A group of nine participants (five females and four males), aged 14 - 17 years (M = 15.4yrs), were recruited from a state suburban high school and interviewed using a semi-structured interview. Four main themes emerged from the data: Ways of Being Aboriginal; Resisting and Rejecting Stereotypes; Moving Against Stereotypes; and Moving Towards Social Action. A minor theme of Holding On emerged and this referred to participants from the Northwest holding on to White imposed stereotypes about urban Aboriginal culture, in order to retain a privileged status as 'real' Aboriginal people. The implications for identity development and how adults work with young Aboriginal people are discussed and suggestions for future research provided.