Researching education in/about/on/for/with/from the rural remote: prepositions that matter for propositions

Year: 2018

Author: Guenther, John

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The Halsey Review made a recommendation to “Establish a national focus for RRR education, training and research to enhance access, outcomes and opportunities in regional Australia.” The propositions behind this recommendation are ones many would agree with: a focus on RRR education is important, as is the need to improve access, outcomes and opportunities.
However, the way we approach these propositions is important too. In this presentation my focus will be on applying Halsey’s proposition and recommendation to rural and remote communities where First Nations people live.
If we approach the propositions with an ‘about’ or ‘on’ or even a ‘for’ the response will probably perpetuate the metrocentric assumptions that define the rural and the remote. It also allows outsiders, whether First Nations or non-Indigenous outsiders, to set the agenda, and delimit the scope and framing of ‘access, outcomes and opportunities’. If we approach the proposition with an ‘in’, the possibilities of seeing solutions that are ‘out’ may be stymied. How we then see solutions from the perspectives of those who have benefited from the rural/remote but who have left that space is important as well. Finally, as researchers we can respond to the Halsey propositions using the ‘with’ perspective. This approach leaves open the possibilities of outsiders, who may be First Nations people or non-Indigenous, working in partnership alongside those who are insiders. The value of this approach can be seen in a shared understanding of issues and solutions and a more effective translation of the knowledge created through research.
In the presentation I will share some examples of the ‘with’ approach in remote First Nations contexts which will probably also resonate with other rural, regional and remote contexts.