The problem of empowerment: the social ecologies of indigenous youth leadership

Lucas Walsh, Rosalyn Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or Indigenous Australians experience pervasive marginalisation. Indigenous youth leadership programmes are often positioned as a means of empowering such young people by encouraging and enabling their participation in their communities as well as, by extension, wider social and political contexts. This paper uses a social ecologies lens to highlight the inherent relationality of such programmes, drawing on the data emerging from the evaluation of one specific initiative. It suggests that local social ecologies play a key role in determining young people’;s relationship to their communities and wider political processes, but it also raises the question of whether feeling empowered to participate or lead is the same as being empowered. It highlights the ways in which educational efforts to foster Indigenous young people’;s participation and leadership are informed and constituted by interrelated, interwoven and interdependent factors that include historical and contemporary racialisation and racism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-164
Number of pages18
JournalPedagogy Culture and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • empowerment
  • indigenous young people
  • Youth leadership

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