Historically research, theory and practice has focussed on promoting and maintaining Western privilege through Western knowledge and Western ways of knowing that deny the validity of Indigenous knowledge and culture. Psychology, in particular, has been complicit in the colonising process and, as a dominant discourse, has a documented past that has been ethnocentric and has objectified, dehumanised and devalued those from culturally different groups (McLeod, 1997; Nystul, 2011). As non-Indigenous professionals, central to our ability to act as effective cultural allies will be how we can form meaningful alliances with our Indigenous students/clients. To be successful we need to develop reflective competency in, and respect for, the distinct and diverse nature of Indigenous cultural identity and experience. Valuing and respecting any aspect of contemporary Indigenous life involves a keen understanding of the impact of colonisation in Australia. It also requires social workers, counsellors and educators to engage in a journey of de-colonisation. Such a journey will take many of us through two mindscapes, two worlds. De-colonisation is not a simple process. Managing its complexity requires personal, professional, and social introspection, and commitment to change. This presentation draws on the presenter’s doctorate research findings regarding the implications for counsellors and counselling practice that lie in the stories of Indigenous adults, who as children, left their home communities to attend secondary school. The aim of this presentation is to enhance the ability of social workers, counsellors and educators to develop an approach which will more fully embrace a process of de-colonization and genuine reconciliation.


Indigenous knowledge, privilege, de-colonization, social work, reconciliation


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