Dr Mary-anne Macdonald is an Early-Career Researcher in Kurongkurl Katitjin at Edith Cowan University (ECU). Mary-anne started her research journey at ECU, having completed her PhD in 2018.
During her PhD, Mary-anne was principal author of a journal article that received vast attention from the media, titled; ‘A “Better” Education: An examination of the utility of boarding school for Indigenous secondary students in Western Australia”. The research findings showed how attending boarding school can be life-changing for Aboriginal students despite challenges such as overcoming racism, ignorance from peers and teachers and homesickness.
Asked what led Mary-anne to become a researcher at ECU, she shared; “I taught secondary education for 14 years in cross-cultural environments in Australia and overseas, where I witnessed a disconnect with the skill sets that teachers had versus what was required in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. These experiences inspired me to do research in making school environments safer for Aboriginal students through the development of culturally reflexive teachers”.
A recent project Mary-anne co-led with Dr Sarah Booth called; “Evaluating the readiness of pre-service teachers to work with Aboriginal stakeholders in schools”, explores the attitudes, values, and understandings about Aboriginal culture and peoples amongst the pre-service teacher cohort. This research investigates the knowledge and attitudes that pre-service teachers have before and after they undertake their training.
Two of Mary-anne’s current projects are investigating the epistemological and sociological approaches that non-Indigenous academics can utilise to extend their own understanding of Indigenous knowledges, and increase their capacity to decolonise academia.
Mary-anne’s research journey was inspired by the research of Mary-anne and other non-Indigenous academics who contribute to the teaching of Kurongkurl Katitjin’s Aboriginal education units, she added; “we explore the boundaries and also the opportunities on using our ‘insider’ knowledge of White Australian society to cultural reflexivity and anti-racist practices in our students.”
“I would like to acknowledge Dr Eyal Gringart for his mentoring and collaboration through both my PhD and our current research projects. I would like to also acknowledge all those who have gone before as researchers in my discipline, whose work I have been able to build on. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the leadership and academic team within Kurongkurl Katitjin, all of whom have been supportive and my champions both as colleagues and friends.”
When asked what advice she would give to ECU researchers thinking about conducting research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, Mary-anne said:
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities need to be the beneficiaries of the research; ECU researchers should consider this before they commence the research. You should be mindful of the questions you ask and investigate ways to consult with Aboriginal people and communities early in the process in your research journey. Non-Indigenous researchers should consider the demand on the time of Indigenous researchers for consultation. It’s important to build relationships with researchers for future collaborations and consultations. Make connections and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander events throughout your research journey, which will help you to build social connections for long term relationship building. It is also your responsibility to educate yourself about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research, researchers, protocols and perspectives in your discipline.. Finally, reconciliation requires investment and commitment from non-Indigenous people; listen, learn, and play your part.”
For advice on who may be able to assist you in developing and refining your research at Kurongkurl Katitjin, contact ECU Research Services.
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