The dreams of mobile young Aboriginal Australian people

The dreams of mobile young Aboriginal Australian people Thesis

School of Communication, International Studies and Languages

  • Author(s): Parkes, Amy
  • Published: 2013
  • Publisher: University of South Australia
  • Volume: Hons

Abstract: Despite growing interest in mobility patterns and quantification, little is known about the lived experiences of mobile young Aboriginal Australian people. Mobility research to date has focused primarily on remote to remote movements. Supported by a Cooperative Research Centre — Remote Economic Participation Honours Scholarship, this study feeds into the 'Pathways to Employment' research project and develops new knowledge for understanding and enabling education and employment pathways which have relevance to young Aboriginal people from remote Australia. It explores understandings of mobile young Aboriginal Australian people aged between 13 and 25 years, who move in, out and through remote, regional and urban locations. Considering dreams and aspirations in the context of cultural difference is the central focus. Current Australian government policy directions aim to reduce Aboriginal Australian disadvantage by focusing on young people. Dominant notions of aspiration are founded in neoliberal ideology, which privileges linear, future focused education and employment pathways. Failure to consider dreams and aspirations in the context of cultural difference and diversity has meant the voice of mobile young Aboriginal Australian people is often absent from the policy process. By speaking with participants in Adelaide, Port Augusta and Alice Springs, this research study improves understandings of what mobile young Aboriginal Australian people dream for. It opens spaces for diverse and alternate meanings of dreams, aspirations and the future to be explored through acknowledging pre-existing assumptions and challenges conventions about what young people’s dreams and aspirations should include. The research follows a qualitative design informed by Indigenous research methodologies. It has also been guided by a phenomenological approach and draws from critical race and whiteness theory, participatory research approaches, postcolonial theory and decolonising methodologies. In the three sites — Adelaide, Alice Springs and Port Augusta — agencies, organisations and community leaders involved in the delivery of services to young Aboriginal people were approached to facilitate the recruitment of participants. Twenty-four young participants engaged in semi-structured interviews. Fourteen agency participants were also interviewed to collect a broader background perspective on mobility in the lives of young Aboriginal Australian people. Gathering data from multiple sources increases the reliability of the research through triangulation. The dreams of mobile young Aboriginal Australian people are driven by one critical ingredient — family. Dreams and aspirations are primarily influenced by the maintenance of relationships closest to them. Young participants in this study endure complex lives with experiences of grief and loss having an impact on young people’s dreams. Many young participants struggle against the values of the neoliberal system and the values associated with their own cultural and social positioning. Marginalisation and disadvantage also have an impact on dreams and aspiration as young people are occupied with meeting basic needs. Young people interviewed dream of knowing about and accessing better support and show great resilience. Young participants want to contribute positively to society but their priorities are not valued in society. The neoliberal system and its focus on individualisation builds on existing wealth and privilege and as such, compounds marginalisation. By not reflecting the ‘ideal individual’ mobile young Aboriginal Australians dreams and aspirations go unacknowledged and become invisible. This research concludes that alternate policies that include the dreams and aspirations of Aboriginal Australian young people will result in improved outcomes in education and employment participation. By supporting Aboriginal Australian young people in ways they value, a space will be given to exist and dream where the different demands of family and the market can be safely acknowledged and positivity negotiated. Pressure to conform currently imposes sacrifice on young participants where they are forced to relinquish connectedness.

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Suggested Citation
Parkes, Amy, 2013, The dreams of mobile young Aboriginal Australian people, Volume:Hons, Thesis, viewed 10 August 2022,

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