The Education Directorate supports schools and staff to build their capability to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, families and communities through:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Officers
The role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Officers (IEOs) is to support schools to build their Cultural Integrity to meet the needs and aspirations of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
The day-to-day work of an IEO involves building strong collaborative relationships, supporting school leaders and classroom teachers to improve their knowledge and practice of cultural integrity and developing and sourcing teaching and learning resources related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders histories and culture. IEOs also support schools to build relationships and understanding between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous students, families and community members.
Professional Learning and Support
Book clubs operate across Canberra for educators from different schools to come together to share ideas and resources for incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in their teaching. The book clubs also providing a forum for sharing a wide range of experiences including ways of engaging community, working on Country, incorporating Indigenous languages, showcasing school initiatives and promoting other professional learning opportunities.
School Leader C Cultural Immersion
An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural immersion program for all School Leader Cs (SLCs) has been rolled out to support the implementation of Cultural Integrity in ACT public schools. The program has been designed to promote awareness and knowledge in cultural integrity and develop the capability of SLCs to lead cultural integrity in their teams. A similar opportunity will be offered to Deputy Principals from 2020.
The annual symposium supports educators to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures in their programs and in their school or work communities.
The full day program includes nationally recognised speakers, expert panel discussions, classroom focused workshops and a lunchtime expo.
In 2019, the Rediscovering Cultures and Languages Symposium featured Julie Freeman, Wreck Bay traditional owner talking about storytelling as well as Edie Wright, Chairperson of Magabala Books discussing Young Dark Emu.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Section began facilitating Engoori workshops for staff within the Education Directorate at the beginning of 2019. Schools are supported by section staff to complete Engoori training.
Historically, Engoori was used as a method of diplomacy between conflicting ideologies and groups and it has been adapted as a means of supporting organisations and schools to build robust cultures that embrace diversity and operate from strengths-based perspectives.
Online Cultural Competence Course
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Section facilitate an online cultural competence training through the Centre for Cultural Competence Australia. Participants in the course have demonstrated a variety of ways in which they felt more culturally competent, including a greater willingness to engage in conversations with colleagues about Aboriginal history and enhanced understanding of the impact of trauma and bias/stigma for Indigenous people.
Directorate staff are supported on their Cultural Integrity journey through the Cultural Integrity in ACT Public Schools Google Community. Here, school-based staff and Education Support Office staff have access to resources relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages, share upcoming events and best practice ideas, and ask questions. As of 6 July 2018, the Google Community had 630 members.
Engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander School Communities
Research strongly suggests that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enjoy greater success when they can see their perspectives in culture and languages reflected in the curriculum and school environment. People come from all over Australia and the world to live and work in Canberra, which means school communities – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and families - vary greatly. That’s why students and all school staff benefit from knowing their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, and school leaders learning how that community would prefer to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and shared history reflected in their local school. Engaging with families and community is integral to building the cultural integrity with each community. The Directorate provides support, advice and resources for schools to achieve this.
The Cultural Integrity Continuum
From 2018 schools have access to a new suite of resources, framed around a self-assessment continuum. The continuum has drawn on the latest evidence and research, which says that to build their Cultural Integrity schools should focus on four dimensions:
- Engagement with families and community
- Teaching with Cultural Integrity
- Leadership, celebration and environment
- High expectations and successful transitions.
ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Advisory Group
The ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Advisory Group (the Group) provides advice to the ACT Government on education and training matters that affect Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students, parents and communities.
The focus of the group is to engage with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and provide advice that assists in policy formulation, program facilitation and implementation.
The Group is made up of nine members – four parent members, four organisation members representing local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander organisations and higher education centres, and one Education Directorate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network member.
The group’s roles and responsibilities include:
- promoting and modelling parent and community engagement in education and encouraging parent/caregiver participation in community consultation processes about education through formal and informal conversations, community forums, community yarns, etc
- providing advice to the Minister for Education, ACT Education Directorate and the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body (through the Director General’s regular meetings with the Elected Body Education Representative) on the educational needs of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples
- providing insight and advice on key strategic issues, policy formulation and delivery of support services and programs in ACT public schools
- representing the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community at the National Indigenous Education Consultative Body network and associated meetings and communicate key issues and actions to the Directorate as appropriate.
Secretariat support is provided by the Education Directorate’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Section.
To contact the Group, please email ATSIEAG@act.gov.au
- Cultural Integrity Fact Sheet (4Mb)
- Cultural Integrity Continuum (337kb)
- ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy
- ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement
- Narragunawali - Reconciliation in Schools
- Stolen Generations Resource Kit for Teachers and Students