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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in unit readings

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in unit readings

How to select and assess readings for diversity, in particular genuine voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

For further assistance with adding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resources into your reading lists, please contact your Liaison Librarian.

Criteria to evaluate bias in resources

Provide balanced, diverse, and authentic voices and representation in your teaching and recommended resources. Check for,

  • Omission: selective reporting of information, often from the writer's or dominant cultural viewpoint and omitting the contribution/point of view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Defamation: negative reporting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' contributions, situations, and culture
  • Disparagement: denying or belittling the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Australian culture
  • Cumulative Implication: only crediting one group for positive developments in society
  • Validity: failing to ensure that information is accurate, unambiguous and represents Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' perspectives
  • Inertia: perpetuation of myths and half-truths by failure to keep abreast of historical scholarship
  • Obliteration: ignoring significant aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
  • Disembodiment: referring in a casual, generalised, and depersonalised way to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures
  • Concreteness: generalising and stereotyping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures, and experiences
  • Comprehensiveness: omitting relevant facts that would provide a diverse, well-rounded understanding of a topic

(University of South Australia. 2013)

Include authentic voices: Check the ethnicity of authors

Include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authored resources in your readings. Check the ethnicity of authors by checking authors',

  • Social media
  • Institutional profiles/personal profiles
  • Author information in their works
  • Wikipedia

Diversity and complexity vs stereotypes and generalisation

Many resources written before the 1980s portrayed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures through stereotypes, generalisations, and inaccurate outsider perspectives.

These days many resources are written by, or in consultation with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and refer to specific Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups, thus illustrating the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Use the check lists below to help you decide whether a resource is suitable to represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.

Characteristics of resources that DO represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives

  • Up to date
  • Accurate
  • Illustrations and photographs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are relevant to the text and are accurate portrayals
  • Photographs are accompanied by captions which name the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, or group, and indicate where they come from
  • Acknowledges Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander participation in the research, writing and presentation processes
  • Are about the local area or state
  • Endorsed by local, regional, state or territory Aboriginal education consultative groups
  • Endorsed by other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander groups
  • Acceptable to the local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community
  • Authored and or led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars

Characteristics of resources that do NOT represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives

  • Perpetuates the concept of terra nullius
  • Ignores or misrepresents Aboriginal resistance to European occupation of the land
  • Overgeneralises
  • Ignores the number and diversity of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal knowledges, languages, cultures and customs
  • Overrepresents men
  • Trivialises women's roles in Aboriginal societies
  • Presents stereotypes and racist connotations
  • Assumes that all Torres Strait Islander people and Aboriginal people live in the past
  • Emphasises the "exotic" to the exclusion of other cultural aspects
  • Excludes Torres Strait Islander people
  • Creates a "them" and "us" separation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples
  • Excludes some readers by assuming a European background

 

With thanks to University of Queensland Library for permission to reuse and adapt their guide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives

and

University of South Australia. (2013).Evaluating texts. Respect, Relationships Reconciliation (the 3Rs) – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education: Resources for pre-service teachers, University of South Australia, Evaluating texts - 3Rs (rrr.edu.au) . CC BY-NC-SA