chapter  4
21 Pages

“We’re going to call our kids ‘African Aussies’”

Leading for diversity in regional Australia
ByJane Wilkinson

Few studies have examined the role of formal leadership in challenging and/or reproducing the white landscape of more ethnically homogenous cultural contexts, such as regional and rural Australia. This chapter contributes to such research through its examination of the leadership practices in a regional high school which had undergone a shift from a largely white, monocultural demographic to a more ethnically diverse student population. It analyses the executive’s laudable attempts to open up a space for/on behalf of minority ethnic students through a positive engagement with cultural recognition and diversity. It draws on Spivak’s distinction between representation as ‘speaking for’ a particular group, and on the other hand, ‘involving interpretation’, in its exploration of the complex and fraught terrain of school leadership advocacy work when attempting to foreground marginalised voices.

The chapter highlights the importance of a critical interrogation of leaders’ assumptions and practices when undertaking advocacy work for minority ethnic students. It argues such interrogation is a crucial aspect of school leadership practice in regional and rural Australia, where historically Indigenous and ethnic ‘others’ are discursively concealed in a white landscape with subsequent deleterious material impacts (Edgeworth, 2011).