Decolonisation through Poetry: Building First Nations’ Voice and Promoting Truth-Telling




Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; Indigenous Knowledges; poetry; decolonisation; truth-telling; call-and-response methodologies


The impetus to decolonise high schools and universities has been gaining momentum in Southern locations such as South Africa and Australia. In this article, we use a polyvocal approach, juxtaposing different creative and scholarly voices, to argue that poetry offers a range of generative possibilities for the decolonisation of high school and university curricula. Australian First Nations’ poetry has been at the forefront of the Indigenous political protest movement for land rights, recognition, justice and Treaty since the British settlement/invasion. Poetry has provided Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with a powerful vehicle for speaking back to colonial power. In this article, a team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers argue that poetry can be a powerful vehicle for Indigenous voices and Knowledges. We suggest that poetry can create spaces for deep listening (dadirri), and that listening with the heart can promote truth-telling and build connections between First Nations and white settler communities.  These decolonising efforts underpin the “Wandiny (gathering together)—Listen with the Heart: Uniting Nations through Poetry” research that we discuss in this article. We model our call-and-response methodology by including the poetry of our co-author and Aboriginal Elder of the Kungarakan people in the Northern Territory, Aunty Sue Stanton, with poetic responses by some of her co-authors.


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How to Cite

Manathunga, Catherine, Shelley Davidow, Paul Williams, Kathryn Gilbey, Tracey Bunda, Maria Raciti, and Sue Stanton. 2020. “Decolonisation through Poetry: Building First Nations’ Voice and Promoting Truth-Telling”. Education As Change 24 (December):24 pages.



Themed Section 2
Received 2020-05-08
Accepted 2020-07-06
Published 2020-12-23