A rationale for the urgency of Indigenous education sovereignty: enough’s enough

Michelle Bishop*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


For tens of thousands of years, Indigenous Peoples in the country now known as Australia have had a very successful education system in place, from place. Currently, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students experience systemic harm in Australia's public and private schooling systems at unacceptable levels and are consistently positioned as deficient in both the practices and outcomes of formal schooling in Australia. Under the pretense of ‘getting a good education’, many Indigenous students feel coerced into compliance, with schools used as vehicles of institutionalisation, indoctrination and assimilation. As a Gamilaroi woman, I find issue with this and am concerned about the intergenerational consequences if Indigenous students remain in this system. Yet, there are few education options available outside the dominant Western, compulsory schooling model. This paper proposes an envisioning of Indigenous education sovereignty, grounded in Aboriginal axiologies, ontologies and epistemologies as an education option for all students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419–432
Number of pages14
JournalAustralian Educational Researcher
Issue number3
Early online date5 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Indigenous education
  • sovereignty
  • envisioning
  • decolonisation
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
  • futurities


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