Situating Indigenous Knowledges and Governance Within the Academy in Australia

  • Maggie Walter
  • Wendy Aitken
Living reference work entry


The 2012 Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (the Behrendt Report) set a new direction in Indigenous/academy engagement. In contrast to previous (failed) policies, the report prioritizes fostering Indigenous leadership, embedding Indigenous knowledges within university curricula and ways of doing business, incorporating Indigenous governance across the sector as keys to improving Indigenous outcomes. Mediating a secure, sector-wide, normalized space for Indigenous knowledges, however, brings with it hazards as well as potential returns. Achieving a whole-of-university responsibility requires opening up a recognition of the non-Indigenous culture already deeply embedded in existing governance structures as a pivotal precursor to a normalized empowered Indigenous presence within sector governance systems. Failure to do so risks revitalizing tokenism and/or co-option. Developed from a 2011 submission to the Behrendt Report, updated to reflect changes emanating from that report, this chapter explores the challenges, constraints, and unexpected gains inherent in closing the ontological gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous understanding of Indigenous governance and knowledges within the academy.


Indigenous knowledges Ontological gap Color-blind racism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social SciencesUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • George Sefa Dei
    • 1
  • Jean-Paul Restoule
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.OISE, University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult EducationOntario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Dept. of Indigenous EducationUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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