The Rise of the NGO in Indigenous education policy

Year: 2021

Author: Madsen, Beth

Type of paper: Individual Paper

This paper relates to my PhD study, which examines the impact of quantitative data in Indigenous education policy enactment in Australia. Specifically, investigating non-Government Organisations (NGOs) who are funded to enact programs in order to fulfil the Close the Gap policy agenda. Tracing the historical rise of the NGO within Indigenous education from inception to current day, provides insight into the current policy landscape and how NGOs have become part of the ‘policy solution’ to address Indigenous education disadvantage. This study is timely in investigating this specific aspect of Indigenous education policy approaches due to the sizable investment by recent federal governments in NGOs that work with Indigenous young people. Between July 2014 and July 2019, nine incentive based Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) attracted $123,660,900 in federal funding to work with Indigenous students in 288 schools across 6 states and territories (Madsen et al., 2020).  This study analyses information from a wide variety of data sources including academic literature, grey literature (e.g. policy documents, government reports, performance evaluations), media reports and the program websites to trace the rise of the NGO in Indigenous education.  This paper provides a literature analysis of two key issues emerging from my PhD to date. First, a lack of Indigenous voices in policy design and enactment in Indigenous education. As a Murri woman this is of particular concern, given the violent history of Indigenous policies that have been written and enacted for us as rather than with us. Second, the lack of rigorous, independent evidence that these programs are effective within an Australian context (Purdie & Buckley, 2010), including peer reviewed studies in the literature. I draw on a Critical Race Theory lens to analyse the literature and policy landscape, which problematise several issues with NGOs as forms of policy enactment for Indigenous young people.Madsen, B., Shay, M., Creagh, S. (2020). The budget has more money for school programs for Indigenous boys than girls. The Conversation. The budget has more money for school programs for Indigenous boys than girls ( N and Buckley S. (2010). School attendance and retention of Indigenous Australian students. Retrieved from