Indigenous Wellbeing in University Spaces: Experiences of Indigenous Students at the Australian National University

This thesis aims to address the issue of Indigenous Australian conceptions of wellbeing in the context of university education. It will examine the role of an Indigenous student support unit in providing a space in which Indigenous wellbeing is enacted, supported and strengthened. The findings are based on discussions with six Indigenous students who were enrolled at the Australian National University and used the Tjabal Indigenous Higher Education Centre and one staff member. In this research I discuss how Indigenous students conceptualise and articulate wellbeing in a local university context. I also address institutional arrangements of university spaces in accounting for the differences in Indigenous student wellbeing. Lastly I examine how spaces for Indigenous wellbeing at the university are produced. I argue that students’ conception and articulation of wellbeing is based in a sense of belonging. Students experience challenges to wellbeing in university spaces as they enter racialised spaces. Wellbeing has also been challenged by culturally unsafe practices in some courses. The Tjabal Centre represents a space for Indigenous wellbeing which has been produced through spatial practice, the use of signs and symbols, and through planning. It is a space where Indigenous ontologies and epistemologies can be enacted in the everyday. Students have extended space for wellbeing on campus through the use of tactics and everyday acts of resistance.
Thesis Munin