Aiken, W and Wareham, C, Policy Implications, Indigenous children growing up strong: a longitudinal study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, Palgrave Macmillan UK, M Walter, KL Martin and G Bodkin-Andrews (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 309-328. ISBN 978-1-137-53435-4 (2017) [Research Book Chapter]
Successive Australian governments have undertaken policy to improve ATSI wellbeing, all recognising the importance of early childhood to this aspiration. This book embraces LSIC’s primary objectives to provide robust quantitative and qualitative data to inform and improve government policy, particularly policy designed to foster and support early childhood development. In the preceding chapters, the authors have analysed and interpreted this data in keeping with the ethical and ideological values of the Study. But ‘the ontological divides’ between Euro-Australian and Aboriginal perspectives in the design of LSIC (Martin and Walter, in Chapter 2) come back into play when the resulting knowledges transferred from Indigenous researchers to the non-Indigenous policy arena. This is the point where the integrity of research becomes watered-down by the practical demands of policy development and implementation. Constraints on time and resources, changing political priorities and demands, and jurisdictional and departmental divisions all impinge on the ‘messy’ business of policy making (Althaus, Bridgman, & Davis, 2013). This is the point where the Indigenous methodologies designed to ‘establish, build and retain the trust’ of study participants and community (Martin and Walter, ch 2), shift back into the realm of western ontologies. This chapter focuses on one element of this ontological divide: the tension between strength-based approaches to human development and the problem focus of public policy. Understanding how current policy processes actually function to maintain social ‘problems’, rather than solve them, highlights the need for alternatives. Explaining why focusing on strengths is so important in developing community capacity brings the inherent flaws of policy formation to light. This chapter draws on some of the key findings of the previous chapters to demonstrate the need for a shift away from deficit-based policy. It advocates a move towards evidence-based policy that focuses on what works, removing any incentive to maintain the ‘problem’ in order to sustain funding.
Research Book Chapter
Aboriginal child well being, strength-based approaches, Aboriginal Policy, Problem-focused policy