Swimming not drowning –resilience as a key determinant of success for aboriginal and torres strait islander pre-tertiary students

Lisa Hall, Catherine Maughan, Michaela Wilkes, Tony Thorpe, Joanne Forrest, Angela Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore how one tertiary enabling programme designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students uses a specifically designed pedagogy which goes beyond a focus on discrete academic skills to help students develop the resilience and knowledge about learning they need to be successful in tertiary learning contexts. Design/methodology/approach – A narrative methodology is used to explore how graduates analysed and evaluated their experience of the course. Findings – The stories show that for these students, resilience is a dynamic and multifaceted construct. Strength, confidence and resilience for these students come from seeing and valuing the strength and resilience that already exists in Indigenous people and Indigenous knowledge systems and using this as a basis for developing their own resilience. Originality/value – This focus on resilience can provide a transformative experience for students who have largely been marginalised from the mainstream educational system, assisting them to build the crucial “cultural capital” required to be successful in their tertiary studies, while reinforcing the strength and knowledge they already bring with them. Through this process students are offered a way of navigating the higher education landscape on their own terms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-173
Number of pages15
JournalJournal for Multicultural Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultural capital
  • Education
  • Enabling
  • Indigenous
  • Resilience

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