Community according to whom? An analysis of how indigenous ‘community’ is defined in Australia’s Through Growth to Achievement 2018 report on equity in education

Marnee Shay, Jo Lampert

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5 Citations (Scopus)


In this Indigenous/non-Indigenous collaboration, we examine discourses of ‘community engagement’ in Australia’s blueprint education policy, Through Growth to Achievement: The Report of The Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools. While the report addresses the education sector widely rather than being specifically directed towards Indigenous education, as a significant equity-oriented text it is accountable for responding to the educational inequities that so greatly impact Indigenous students and communities. We begin this paper by reviewing some of the complex historical meanings in educational policy assumed through the term community engagement, followed by an analysis of how Australia’s non-Indigenous policy writers have historically constructed Indigenous identities and communities. Drawing on Carol Bacchi’s poststructural policy discourse analysis, ‘What’s the problem represented to be?’ we explore the taken-for-granted assumptions about who and what ‘community’ means including what cause and effect benefits are assumed from community engagement. We propose that colonial legacies are still present in the way ‘community engagement’ is defined in this influential report and advocate for a policy disruption that utilises Indigenous definitions of community and community engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-63
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Studies in Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Communities
  • community engagement
  • educational policy
  • indigenous issues
  • policy analysis

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