The impact of history

Aboriginal art, with Assessment caption

Assessment objective

Consider the quote below and write a 2000 word report which explores the connections between contemporary Indigenous circumstances and Australia’s colonial history.

Indigenous education history cannot be considered in isolation. As it is deeply embedded within the totality of Australia’s colonial history, it is a complex nexus of social and educational policy. (Herbert 2012)


  • AssessmentFocus on the impact of historical experiences on Indigenous peoples and cultures both in the past and today.
  • Consider in particular contemporary issues around Indigenous education and provide recommendations for the effective delivery of Indigenous education.

Your report must use the headings listed here and cover the following content:

  1. Executive summary (100 words)

From your executive summary or introduction, we want to learn:

  • What your report is about.
  • What points it is going to cover.
  • What you overall argument/position is.
  • What is the broad significance of what you are arguing/writing.
  1. Cultural context (600 words)
  • Explain the key cultural concepts that inform a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander worldviews, including kinship and relations to land and sea.
  • Note the significance of each for Indigenous peoples and cultures. (Note the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, in particular the Legends of the Torres Strait and the location of Dreaming stories.)
  1. Historical circumstances (600 words)
  • In relation to the above, note what was detrimentally impacted on or lost as a result of the British colonisation/invasion of Australia.
  • Outline the major policies that impacted upon Indigenous ways of life, including dispossession, protectionism, segregation, assimilation and the Stolen Generations.
  1. Contemporary context (500 words)
  • Linking to the above, explain the impact Australia’s history has had, and continues to have, on Indigenous peoples both in general and more specifically on education outcomes.
  • Note the contemporary policies of reconciliation, self-determination and social justice and what they are trying to achieve.
  • Note how they are different to previous policies (such as dispossession, protectionism, segregation and assimilation) in terms of human rights.
  1. Recommendations and conclusion (200 words)
  • Given the above cultural, historical and contemporary contexts, provide a detailed response as to why many Indigenous students today might feel marginalised within the mainstream western schooling system and give examples.
  • Give three recommendations for how this could be overcome and why the effective delivery of Indigenous education to Indigenous and non-Indigenous students is needed. Recommendations can be made within an education context, that is, in terms of curriculum formulation and choice of pedagogy.
  • Provide a brief concluding statement including the significance of your report, particularly in relation to the teaching profession.


Herbert, J 2012,‘“Ceaselessly Circling the Centre”: Historical Contextualization of Indigenous Education within Australia’, History of Education Review, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 91–103.

Image: Pathways to Knowledge, Denise Proud