Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours
School of Psychology and Social Science
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
Dr Ken Robinson
Disparities exist between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians on indicators of life expectancy, alcohol and drug use, adult and juvenile incarceration, and rates of hospitalisation for self-harm, suicide, and mental and behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance use (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2008; Commonwealth of Australia, 2011). Psychology is a discipline that can assist in remedying these issues, yet disparities are evident in Indigenous participation in higher education generally, as well as within tertiary psychology education specifically (Jones, Dudgeon, & Kelly, 2010). Ten Indigenous Australian psychologists were interviewed to investigate possible barriers and enablers for Indigenous students studying psychology. Hermeneutic phenomenology guided the research and its analysis, whereby the data went through a process known as the ‘hermeneutic circle’ (Whitehead, 2004). Data was analysed in itself, as well as part of the whole, leading to the worldviews of the participant and researcher converging into a ‘horizon of meaning’ (Whitehead, 2004). Sources of support for Indigenous students included family support, financial assistance, and Indigenous student support centres. Potential barriers to tertiary study of psychology were negative conceptions of higher education and psychology by the community, ‘culture shock’ upon relocating to the metropolitan area, a lack of Indigenous content and staff, and culturally insensitivity by staff members. Efforts should be made to address these barriers to participation, as well as to build those structures and services that were supportive for students.
Cameron, S. (2011). The experiences of Indigenous Australian psychologists and higher education. https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses_hons/9