The Whole of Community Engagement initiative: Interculturality in remote Aboriginal education


  • Terry Moore University of Tasmania
  • Eliani Boton Private consultant
  • Catherine Street
  • Rosemary Gundjarranbuy Charles Darwin University
  • Elaine Lawurrpa Maypilama Charles Darwin University



Whole of Community Engagement initiative, remote Aboriginal education, interculturality, intercultural partnership, complexity


It is generally accepted by researchers, policy-makers and practitioners that progress in Indigenous education depends on working in partnership with Indigenous people, and that programs and services are best provided in partnership. The 2014–2016 Whole of Community Engagement initiative built a partnership of non-Indigenous researchers with researchers, teachers, education leaders and elders from six remote Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. In this paper we describe the features that led us to characterise the initiative and the remote community and school context as intercultural and complex. The former included methodology, staffing, meeting procedure and interpersonal communication, negotiation of meaning and decision-making. On the basis of this approach, we found that intercultural complexity was strongly evident in schooling in Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island, North East Arnhem Land, which was the community most closely studied by the authors. The paper contributes to the recognition of intercultural complexity in remote Aboriginal schooling, and the potential benefit that its recognition can have for educational outcomes in those contexts.


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Author Biographies

Terry Moore, University of Tasmania

Terry Moore is a sociologist. His first career was in Indigenous education in Far North Queensland, and he has been involved in tertiary teaching and research in Indigenous issues since 1998. His work focuses on the dilemmas of superdiversity that face Indigenous Australians in negotiating their increasing social, cultural and subjective complexity, and the state in its role in Indigenous education and governance. He is interested in the challenges posed by difference for social cohesion. He is an adjunct researcher at the University of Tasmania.

Eliani Boton, Private consultant

Dr Eliani Boton is a long-term adult educator with expertise in digital literacy, eLearning, pedagogy and student engagement. Her consultancy work includes course design and development, supporting learning and teaching at higher and vocational education levels.

Catherine Street

Cat Street has been working for seven years in health and education settings internationally and in the Northern Territory. She has expertise in strategic planning, research, evaluation, capacity building, partnership development and community engagement. Her interests include systems thinking and social impact.

Rosemary Gundjarranbuy, Charles Darwin University

Rosemary Gundjarranbuy is the immediate past manager of Yalu Marngithinyaraw, a Yolngu community controlled education centre. She is a senior Yolngu educator and researcher in school-based and health education. She has worked on a range of community projects related to youth wellbeing, aged care and child development research.

Elaine Lawurrpa Maypilama, Charles Darwin University

Lawurrpa Maypilama is an experienced Yolngu researcher. She has worked extensively with Charles Darwin University and Menzies School of Health. She founded Yalu Marngithinyaraw, and has guided many non-Indigenous researchers to work with Yalu in ways that are ethical and mutually beneficial, and enable non-Indigenous and Yolngu to understand each other’s knowledges.


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How to Cite

Moore, T., Boton, E., Street, C., Gundjarranbuy, R., & Maypilama, E. L. (2022). The Whole of Community Engagement initiative: Interculturality in remote Aboriginal education. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 51(2).