Reimagining Education Research for Pasifika students in Australia: Understanding the need for a paradigm shift

Year: 2021

Author: Pale, Maryanne

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Pasifika migration to Australia has continually increased over the years, mostly via New Zealand, and it is one of the fastest growing migrant groups in Australia.  The Australian census showed that in 2016 Australia had a total population of 23,401,881 (Australia Bureau of Statistics, 2016). Of that population, 191,433 (0.8%) peoples were identified as Pasifika - a 12% increase in the Pasifika population in Australia from the 2011 census (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016).    In Victoria, Pasifika peoples make up 0.59% of the population. 53% of Pasifika peoples in Victoria were aged under 30 years (in comparison to Victoria’s overall population aged under 30 years at 38%) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016). In relation to early school leaving (and consequently under-representation in tertiary education), and the phenomenon of school disengagement, Cuthill & Scull (2011) and McKinley & Webber (2018) have highlighted the need for educators, policymakers and the welfare sector to understand the cultural complexities underpinning young Pasifika children and students’ interactions with Australian educational processes. These findings were echoed in a recent report where ‘education’ was identified as one of the areas that Pasifika young peoples’ experience challenges in (Charis Mentoring Inc, 2019).In New Zealand, reports on the educational challenges and achievement of Pasifika students are prevalent (e.g. Harkess, Murray, Parkin, & Dalgety, 2005a, 2005b; Ministry of Education, 2016; Progress in International Reading Literacy Study [PIRLS], 2011; Programme for International Student Assessment [PISA], 2016). However, in Australia there is a paucity in research literature on Pasifika students within educational settings. In this paper, we consider how Australian educational sectors and governing bodies can work towards supporting Pasifika children and students through reimagining educational research that identifies their challenges, successes and achievements in education.