Sydney School of Education and Social Work events – 2017 Archive

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Social Justice Seminar Series


19 September 2017

A joint presentation by the Sydney School of Education and Social Work Social Policy, and School and Teacher Education Policy research networks

What do we mean when we talk about social justice and how should we proceed?

Terms such as, “social justice”, “diversity”, “equity” and “inclusion” are in common use in universities, but they are not always used with clarity or precision. Sometimes they describe well-developed plans and actions. Occasionally they represent little more than progressive chic. In any case it is time for some serious examination of what we mean when we talk about social justice – and of how we might attempt to act in socially just ways. This series of fortnightly seminars aims to deepen our collective understanding of social justice by addressing a range of pressing problems from teaching, research and community engagement in the areas of education and social work. The presentations will be critical and questioning, and hopefully push beyond the language of feel-good vision statements in order to encourage hard thinking and serious agenda setting about the practices and politics of inequality.

The "Aboriginal Voices" project: working to transform the education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

Those working in the field of Aboriginal education are aware of the challenges involved in exposing and resolving the embedded – and often nourished – inequalities that can haunt these students. Only fundamental transformation of the lived experience of schooling for Indigenous students can change their educational outcomes. While many practitioners and Aboriginal families alike are cognisant of the complexity and multidimensional nature of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student underachievement, little has been proposed to reconceptualise how education could be transformed to achieve equitable, long-term improvements for these students. The "Aboriginal Voices" project is a collaborative, holistic, whole-school-and-community focused long-term undertaking that aims to reconceptualise the structures and practices of schools that have for too long inhibited Aboriginal student, parent and community engagement and educational success for Aboriginal students. The presenters will outline how the project has been developed to support the educational needs of Aboriginal students, the aspirations of their families and communities, and the epistemic, professional and pedagogical needs of teachers and principals to affect change. Ten systematic reviews informed by recent research will provide the foundational framework for findings from a multisite case study that explores the overall educational, social and cultural experiences of Aboriginal students. This will guide a whole-of-system professional learning model to underpin the continuing evolution of the program. The intention here is to outline how Aboriginal students, parents and community members have conceived their understanding of the ‘public’ discourses of Aboriginal failure and focus on how these construct students’ aspirations and in turn impact on their educational success.Presenters: Cathie Burgess and Kevin Lowe

“We can’t just sit back and say it’s too hard”: older women, social justice and activism

In western societies, the concerns and perspectives of older women are often marginalised or made invisible by age discrimination that has been normatively embedded in the public psyche. The presenter will describe a study she conducted into the strategies used by older women to manage the impact of childhood sexual abuse throughout their lives. Many of the women shared the ways in which they engaged with issues of social justice. Activism tends to be viewed as a collective public activity with a social-justice agenda. Whilst Dr Kostecki concedes that some of the women in her study were overtly active, she says most spoke about their efforts to achieve justice across a number of issues, including childhood sexual abuse, growing older and the role of women in unexpected, unseen, and unorthodox ways. Dr Kostecki's presentation will argue that activism can exist in the ‘territories of the everyday’ (Rose, 1999, p.280) and is demonstrated through the voices of the women in her study. The title quotes one of the women involved in the study, and refers to the need for social change in terms of how society and the justice system respond to childhood sexual abuse in our communities. Their perspectives, historically hidden, constitute protests that ‘challenge existing regimes of power’ (Kostecki, 2015, p. 291). Presenter: Tina Kostecki

Event details

  • When: 4–5.30pm

  • Where: Room 612, Education Building A35, Manning Rd, University of Sydney
    Education Building A35
    Click image for interactive map.

  • Cost: Free

  • RSVP: Not necessary

  • Contact:

    Dr Kelly Freebody

    Professor Donna Baines

    Associate Professor Susan Goodwin

    Associate Professor Helen Proctor

  • More info: View the topics and speakers for the entire series of seminars on the Social Policy Research Network events website or the School and Teacher Education Policy Research Network events website.

  • Speakers: Cathie Burgess is a senior lecturer specialising in Aboriginal studies and Indigenous education at the University of Sydney. She has extensive experience as a secondary school teacher with expertise in Aboriginal studies, Aboriginal curriculum, and culturally responsive relationships-based pedagogical approaches for Aboriginal students. Cathie has been lead investigator on key education-department research projects working closely with Aboriginal communities in NSW. She is currently working on the research project "; "Aboriginal Voices: insights into Aboriginal Education" with Dr Kevin Lowe.

    Kevin Lowe is a Gubbi Gubbi man from southeast Queensland. He has had educational experience as a high school teacher, TAFE administrator, university lecturer, and as NSW Board of Studies Inspector, Aboriginal Education. Dr Lowe has been actively involved in Aboriginal community organisations, Aboriginal language policy and curriculum development and implementation. Over the past 20 years he has worked to establish projects with Aboriginal communities, schools and education systems that centre on developing effective school-community learning partnerships and lifting student engagement and educational outcomes. Most recently he was appointed as a post-doctoral fellow at Macquarie University to undertake research on developing a model of sustainable improvement in Aboriginal education.

    Tina Kostecki is Director of Field Education and a lecturer in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at The University of Sydney. Although Her work as a social work practitioner and coordinator has been primarily in the women’s services sector addressing violence against women, Dr Kostecki has also had experience in the health and child and family services sectors. Her research interests are aligned to social justice issues and include critical gerontology and the application of critical theoretical perspectives to inform social work practice.
         • Rose, N. (1999). Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought
           Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
         • Kostecki, K. (2015). Resistance and Reconstruction: Older women talk
           about childhood sexual abuse
    . (Unpublished doctoral thesis), Deakin
           University, Australia.

Social Justice Seminar Series

Where Room 612, Education Building A35, Manning Rd, University of Sydney
Education Building A35
Click image for interactive map.


19 September 2017

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