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Special Schooling for Indigenous Students: A New Form of Racial Discrimination?

de Plevitz, Loretta,

Academic Literature


Recent reports on Indigenous education have revealed that high proportions of students have been placed in special classes for intellectual disability or behaviour disorders. This paper asks whether systemic racism, which fails to perceive cultural differences between the ethos of Australian educational systems and the experiences and abilities of Indigenous students, is the catalyst for placing many Indigenous students in special schooling, away from the mainstream. The paper applies an analysis based on anti-discrimination law to argue that while allocation on the basis of intellectual disability or behaviour disorders may not be deliberate racism, the criteria developed for the allocation may be measuring conformity to the dominant culture. If the policies underlying this segregation are unreasonable in the circumstances, they could constitute indirect racial discrimination against Indigenous students.

Publication information

Journal/Publication : The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education

Location : Australasia

Domain/s: Community and civic participation

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