A literature analysis on the role of Indigenous teachers: Indigenous teacher’s voices on why they stay in the profession

Year: 2019

Author: Perkins, Ren

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

I am a Murri man from South East Queensland. I have connections with the Quandamooka People from North Stradbroke Island and to the Aboriginal Settlement of Cherbourg, Queensland. I am proud of my Aboriginal heritage, and would like to contribute to my people through education and research. My positioning as an Aboriginal man who has worked in Indigenous education over twenty years has contributed to conceptualising this paper and contributing another Aboriginal voice to the literature in Indigenous education.

This paper explores the issue of the critical shortage of Indigenous people in the teacher workforce in Australia. The data shows that there were 3100 Indigenous teachers who were working in the profession in 2015, which made up 1% of the total teacher workforce. This was in contrast to Indigenous students, who made up 5.3% of the total Australian student population in 2015. The recent More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers Initiative (MATSITI) (2017) had the aim of increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people entering and remaining in professional teaching positions in Australian schools. Despite calls for urgent investment in increasing the Indigenous teacher workforce, the small numbers of Indigenous teachers are an ongoing issue for Australian schools.

This paper presents an analysis of the literature about those Indigenous teachers who have remained in the profession and why they have chosen to remain rather than focusing on the reasons for the critical shortage of Indigenous teachers and emphasising the problem. The paper will investigate existing research in Australia and in an international context of what impact Indigenous teachers have in the profession, particularly on outcomes for Indigenous students. This literature analysis is attached to my PhD study that will privilege the voices of Indigenous teachers who have remained in the profession, despite the challenges they face in undertaking their roles in schools. Investigating the issue of small numbers of Indigenous teachers through a lens of exploring what has worked and kept the Indigenous teachers we do have in the workforce provides a different way of understanding the issue and will emphasise what works in attracting and keeping Indigenous teachers teaching over what doesn’t work.