Truth telling in assessment

Do you create assessment tasks and ask your students to respond to a case study with Indigenous content?

You may need to delve deeper into how and why the situation outlined in your case study occurred. What are the social, political, historical and economic circumstances that were contributing factors?

You may be surprised to find the outcomes are predictable as you develop your understanding of the continuing consequences of colonisation.  

One way of doing this in your teaching is to frame your assessment question so that students are required to research the social, historical, political and/or economic driving factors for your case study.

Students will learn how decisions made from a vulnerable position can further increase a person/community’s vulnerability as the result of ongoing impacts of colonisation. 

I recently worked with an academic on a case study using the following story as its basis. 

Read: The inside story of the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund collapse and the missing millions – ABC News 

To truly understand and critically analyse the story of the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund you must understand our experience of death and why we are so comprehensively vulnerable to a product such as this.

In our discussion, my academic friend learned about the significance and prevalence of death in First Nations communities. We are a small population disproportionately experiencing death and grief in highly socially connected small communities – we are people who rarely finish grieving one loss before another is upon us. We are a small part of the population that spends a huge amount of our finite resources on funeral costs. This fund, the fallout and reality of our needs, have been driving factors in recent legislative changes around transporting the deceased and funerals.

I learned something from this conversation too. I learned, again, that I live in two worlds that are not aware of each other in so many ways. Where does all this death come from; you ask? It comes from a lot of places, and they are all tied into the systems of colonisation. I’m not going to give you all the answers, but I’ll put you on the right track to do some research yourself:

  • Deaths in custody due to over representation in prison systems
  • Over representation in prisons due double standards in acceptable social behavioural norms
  • Educational disengagement due to outdated and irrelevant learning systems and structures and negative social factors that impact cognitive capacity
  • Negative social factors driven by unemployment and poor educational outcomes leading to lives in poverty
  • Living in poverty impacts participation in all other areas of life through poor mental health, malnutrition, chronic disease, homelessness or overcrowding
  • Poor mental health, malnutrition, chronic disease, homelessness/overcrowding shortening life expectancy and/or leading to a cycle of recidivism and back to the top of this list.

We haven’t even begun to delve into the effects of dispossession and life on missions, basic food rations etc. There’s a lot to unpack and it’s going to take some time. Open some conversations with your Elder in Residence, your First Nations Education team or find your local Land Council office and ask them who you can talk to in your area to find out more. You may like to simply read this article in comparison to the one above: Why the collapse of the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund is a reckoning for regulators – National Debt Helpline (

Truth telling isn’t about 200+ years ago, it’s about now.

The truth here is that vulnerability is not victimhood. In fact, despite the ongoing systemic death related havoc that is wrought on our communities, we are still here to stand up for ourselves and make sure our loved ones are given the respect they deserve in returning to the Dreaming. We are still here to write these articles and have these conversations. The truth is that our love is so strong that we still provide a safe place to support those who want to learn the true history of this colony. In the words of my father, “No one ever said this was gonna be easy… it’s still gotta be done.”



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