Educational processes directed at Indigenous peoples have long propagated a disparity between the educational successes of Indigenous and non–Indigenous students (May 1999), a contrast which can be acutely observed in Australia.

It is not surprising, then, that the educational needs of Indigenous students have been poorly served, with the extant literature clearly declaring that there is much work to be done (Malin & Maidment, 2003). Although there have been numerous studies seeking to understand (and by extension, redress) issues pertaining to participation by minority groups in education (such as Indigenous communities), many of these undertakings fail to adequately articulate and consider the importance of cultural factors and how such realities form a unique foundation with respect to Indigenous educational policy and development options.

In addressing this shortcoming, this paper explores critical, community capacity building and community empowerment strategies that may inform policies and programmes for the reduction of educational disparities, increasing Indigenous student participation in higher education and promoting Indigenous–led educational initiatives. As such, this exploratory study highlights a number of emergent themes derived by community representatives, including both Indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and non–Indigenous participants, during a series of focus group discussions.