Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Iimproving Health and Education outcomes for Indigenous Australians

Greetings from "Closing the Gap - What are the next steps for improving Health and Education outcomes for Indigenous Australians" at the Australian National University in Canberra. Richard Spencer, Commissioner of Social Policy, Australian Productivity Commission, was the first speaker.

Mr. Spencer discussed his commission's report "Human services in remoteIndigenous communities". The report pointed out that "Service provision in remote Indigenous communities faces challenges including isolation, time-consuming (and often costly) travel, and difficulty recruiting and retaining staff with the necessary skills and capabilities." (p. 265).

I found it disappointing that the report made only one mention of online services and it was negative: "Access to online service alternatives can also be challenging due to a lack of IT infrastructure and, in some cases, a lack of the skills required to utilise those services.". In his PHD thesis, Philip Townsend (p. 26, 2017), points out there has been rapid adoption of mobile devices in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Dr. Townsend investigated the use of mobile devices for remote education. Given the problems of isolation, travel cost, recruiting and retaining staff, the Commission could have done more than just dismiss online service alternatives in one sentence.


Townsend, Philip, 2017 Travelling together and sitting alongside: How might the use of mobile devices enhance the professional learning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pre-service teachers in remote communities?, Flinders University, School of Education.  URL

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