Confronting the Past so we do not Disempower Families in the Present

Reflections on use of a Digitised Case Study


  • Dorothy Savage
  • Susan Gair James Cook University


Colonisation, Racism, Social work education, Social work practice, Digitised case studies


Working genuinely and respectfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians begins with graduates recognising Indigenous people’s inspirational struggles against the legacies of colonisation, and their experiences of ongoing racism, loss of dignity, and the intergenerational removal of children. In a second-year subject we teach at a regional Australian university, we undertake difficult conversations about Australia’s violent, hidden past, and how disempowering practice can increase the despair felt by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In this article we review relevant literature before describing our classroom- based use of an authentic, digitised case study to facilitate students’ learning. We conclude by sharing our observations that use of the digitised case study teaching tool enhanced students’ engagement and empathy regarding the lived experiences of Indigenous Australians.

Author Biography

Dorothy Savage

Dorothy Savage is an elder and traditional owner in the Bindal, Juru and Biri groups within the Birrigubba nation, which extends along the East Coast of Queensland from Townsville to the south-west of the Bowen area.


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