Abstract: This paper discusses findings of a phenomenological study completed in 2015, which focused on the perceptions about secondary school from disengaged First Nations youth from a community less than 50km from Darwin in the Northern Territory. The study was informed by aspects of the transformative paradigm as social transformation for this cohort was a driving motivation for the researcher and there was also a desire to challenge the 'norms' in the mainstream education system for these First Nations young people. Ten young people (five male and five female), aged between 15 and 25 who had varying experiences of secondary schools but were not engaged in education at the time, were interviewed. This paper focuses on perceived barriers that prevented them from engaging in education, and their aspirations for the future. Family and community life, relational issues at school, their own feelings, drugs and alcohol and exclusion were described as barriers to engagement. Future aspirations included employment within their home community and wanting to re-engage with education. There are implications both at a school and policy level from this study. Schools must understand the cultural and family issues of First Nations young people ensuring adequate training of staff and where possible, increasing First Nations staff. Cross-cultural training and training to strengthen staffs' relationships with students is necessary, with specific efforts to engage communities and families. Further, place-based alternatives for educational pathways need to be explored that give heed to local ways of knowing, being and valuing.
Walker, Lyndal, 2019, Giving voice to first nations young people disengaged from education in the northern territory with a specific focus on barriers to education and their aspirations for the future, Volume:29, Journal Article, viewed 15 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=14870.