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Human Development &
Capability Association

Agency, Well-Being and Justice

Engaging with decolonisation to value Indigenous people’s self-determination as a key human capability: Some reflections


Presenter: Dr. Vinathe Sharma-Brymer, Lecturer in Social Work
University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

Brief Bio: Vinathe Sharma-Brymer is a lecturer in Social Work at University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. She is an interdisciplinary academic researcher applying cross-continental approaches and perspectives in her qualitative research on human development. Her current academic research is on the benefits of nature-relatedness for better human health and wellbeing. Vinathe also focuses on working with individual (human) agency while engaging with intersecting issues in the experiences of equality and equity to enjoy the quality of life. This focus broadens her personal and professional engagement to examine decolonisation and self-determination using a migrant’s lens to explore the impact of colonisation on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia.

Abstract: Social work education and professional practice have increasingly become inclusive of practices such as anti-oppressive, human rights, person-centred and critical analysis with reflections. In the Australian context, these practices are still developing towards responding to Indigenous rights, worldviews and the self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Through colonisation, the western, Anglo-Eurocentric paradigms of knowledge, policies and ways of life have and are still impacting on the lives of First Nations Australians, negatively affecting their quality of life and opportunities of enjoying their human capabilities. Discussions on decolonisation requires everyone to examine the effects of colonisation, to move away from reinstating the past and being critically conscious of injustices. Raising questions about inequalities that First Nations Australians experience through racism, discrimination and suppression of their human rights, the author/presenter unpacks decolonisation steps for advocacy and action. In the workshop, we will be talking about decolonisation as a key actionable step to embrace in personal and professional lives. She highlights self-determination as a key human capability that must be valued and supported by non-Indigenous people to ensure Indigenous self-determination is realised according to Indigenous peoples priorities and calls.

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