Chapter 6


Every Teacher’s Responsibility:

Inclusion of Indigenous Perspectives in Education

by Gabrielle Quin

Australian education has moved into a new millennium, yet Indigenous students remain unfairly disadvantaged and largely excluded from success at Primary, Secondary and Tertiary level. Recent policy initiatives have described inclusion and equity in education for Australia’s Indigenous peoples as an “urgent national priority”1. They recommend that the histories and contemporary community per-spectives of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders be taught across the curriculum at all levels of education. Policy documents call upon educators to be leaders in the move to increase the awareness of Indigenous perspectives throughout the entire Australian community.

            Our education system will play a pivotal role in helping Australians achieve the goal of practical reconciliation. Educators cannot continue to allow Indigenous students to suffer inequitable treatment within that system. Our teaching styles and curricula must become inclusive of the educational needs of our Indigenous students and those of the non–Indigenous community where widespread misconceptions, prejudices and misinformation about Australians’ shared history and Indigenous peoples’ contemporary reality remain evident.2  To become effective agents for change within Australia’s education system, adequate preparation in Indigenous education issues should be offered to and actively pursued by pre- and in- service teachers. Our teaching institutions should become places where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples feel welcomed, and their different teaching and learning styles respected and included within the educational agenda. Indigenous Studies should be compulsory for all teachers in training: offering, along with a generic grounding in Indigenous history and contemporary communities, practical tools with which teachers may access and consult within schools’ community networks.

The need for increasing inclusion / equity for indigenous students


The Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA)  Discussion Paper of the Taskforce on Indigenous Education 2000 reports on the findings of the 1996 National School English Literacy Survey. The paper observed that approximately 70% of all students in Year 3 surveyed met the identified performance standards in reading and writing. Less than 20% of students in the Indigenous sample met the reading standards and less than 30% the writing standards. The lowest achieving Year 3 Indigenous students made little or no progress over the following two years. There was a similar trend for Year 5 students.

“This poor performance is not just a reflection of socio-economic and English language background, since 60% - 70% of Year 3 students from low socio-economic backgrounds and just over 60% with a language background other than English met the reading and writing standards.”3

            The report goes on to state that this gap in performance standards between Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous students increases as schooling continues, and many of the former leave school with an unacceptably low level of English literacy;  “unemployable outside their own community and almost completely dependant on key non- Indigenous people in very significant aspects of their lives.” MCEETYA (2000)

            3,949 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were enrolled in primary schools in Victoria 2000, and 1,940 in secondary schools, totalling 5,889 students. A great decline in retention rates (similar for both government and non-government schools) occurs in Years 7, 11 and 12 where a mass exodus of students occurs. (ABS) In 1998, 83% of Indigenous students remained in schooling until Year 10, but only 32% to year 12 compared to 73% for non- Indigenous students. (MEETYA, 2000) These figures obviously impact on the percentage of Indigenous students entering tertiary education where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are most underrepresented.

Apparent Retention Rates (a) for Years 10, 11 and 12 - 2001 5

(a)           From Year 7/8 for full-time students only.

(b)           Indigenous apparent retention rates are influenced by the degree to which students identify as Indigenous, which may have increased between 1998 and 2000.

Selected Characteristics of Australian 15 year-old Students and Their Scores in Reading, Mathematical and Scientific Literacy - 20006

A brief history of policy initiatives:

Policy initiatives to address the lack of equity and inclusion of Indigenous peoples in education on both a Federal and Victorian level have tended to repeat themselves over the years, reiterating the urgent need for a shake up in curriculum and teacher perspectives. It seems that ingrained attitudes in the community and a lack of prioritisation of the issue throughout all levels of the Australian education system have hindered previous recommendations from taking effect. 

            Penny Tripcony, Chair of the Indigenous Education Consultative Body, notes that, as far back as 1938, in a document to the Prime Minister, the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Society demanded  “in particular, and without delay, all Aborigines should be entitled to receive the same educational opportunities as white people”7.  However, it was not until 1967 that Aborigines were even included in the Census! In the 1970s, the Labour Government began to provide funding for Indigenous education and in 1976, the National Aboriginal Education Committee (NAEC) advised the Minister of Education that Aboriginal involvement in the planning and implementation of educational programs was of the highest priority.

            As a result, in 1989 the National Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Policy was produced, stating 21 long-term goals under four main themes:

1. Involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in education decision-making;

2. Equality of access to education services;

3. Equity of educational participation;

4.  Equitable and appropriate outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

            These long-term goals were based upon the understanding that equity and reconciliation is dependent upon acceptance of the unique status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as original inhabitants of Australia and that their cultures and values be respected equally. 8

            Parallel to the call for equality of access to, and quality of education for Australia’s Indigenous peoples, was the evidence of the need for education in Indigenous history and issues for Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. In 1991, the report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody closely linked education and training factors to the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in custody. 9  

            In 1995 The National Review of Education for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Policy 10, found that the goals laid out by the 1989 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy had not been met. Improvements in the provision of educational services had occurred, but were inconsistent: Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders were still the most educationally disadvantaged group in Australia.11 

            The Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the 21st Century (1999) was a significant policy document with regards to Indigenous education in that it specifically referred to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders within its recommendations. The document calls for education to be socially just so that equal opportunities could exist for Indigenous students, and that the population be adequately informed of Indigenous cultures. 12 

            The National Statement of Principles and Standards for more culturally inclusive schooling in the 21st Century  (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, March 11th, 2000)13  established that the achievement of educational equality is an “urgent national priority” devising a framework for accelerating the achievement of equitable and appropriate educational outcomes for Indigenous Australians. A ‘model for more culturally inclusive and educationally effective schools’ on a community, school and classroom level was produced. The onus was laid upon schools, teachers and universities involved in teacher training to effect change with regards to the inclusion of Indigenous students and their perspectives in the curricula and throughout the community. 14

The need for increasing awareness of Indigenous perspectives across the whole community

Key Element 1 of The Department of Science, Education and Training’s (DEST) recent paper Working Together for Indigenous Youth: The National Framework, 15 states: “inequity in educational achievement (for Indigenous students) shows that existing support structures are not providing impetus and that there is a limited cultural understanding between Indigenous and non- Indigenous communities.” Educational institutions must address the ingrained racism identified in many community attitudes towards Australia’s Indigenous peoples and the erroneous beliefs that impair the achievement of the goals clearly stated in Indigenous Education policy documents. These attitudes and beliefs include:

•  Misunderstanding or lack of acceptance of the rights of the Indigenous student population, including issues of identification, their history, contemporary culture and special needs;

•  The belief that educational equality for Indigenous Australians is either not achievable or if possible, only achievable over a long period of time (ie decades or generations); 16

•  The belief, in Victoria, that Indigenous Education is an issue for other states;

•  The fact that education in Indigenous issues has not been regarded as an area of core business in curricula.

            The Australian Curriculum Studies Association (ACSA) considers that the Australian education systems have “failed to assist all students to develop informed understandings of the cultures, histories and contemporary lifestyles of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander Peoples”17 citing racism as a causal factor. Widespread mistaken beliefs persist, such as the belief that only those in the desert are true Aborigines or that blood content defines Aboriginality. In fact the issue is one of identification. An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community which he or she lives.18

            Speculation often occurs with regards to whether an Indigenous student is deserving or not of Government subsidies on the basis that their features are not recognisably Indigenous features, or do not live in the bush. These ideas are a legacy of Australia’s infamous treatment of Indigenous peoples and are closely linked to traumatic past events for Australia’s Indigenous population. These aforementioned attitudes are highly insulting, alienating and damaging to students’ self-esteem. At the 2000 National Education and Employment Forum, Penny Tripcony, implicates inadequate and misinformed teaching practices as the major barrier to progress in community understanding of Indigenous issues in education, stating: “We are guilty of contributing to the further disempowerment of Indigenous students in a system that has relentlessly perpetuated the myths and stereotypes that have abounded in this country since British occupation”. 19  

            Misunderstanding of Indigenous contemporary culture by the wider community abounds in the area of language. Language is understood as going to the core of people’s identity. 20 “The acceptance of one’s language serves to preserve self respect and foster knowledge that one is valued as a person.”21  Amongst the special needs of many Indigenous students is the recognition that their first language may be Aboriginal English, or another Indigenous language, and thus they may be in need of ESL support. Many teachers do not recognise Aboriginal English as a separate dialect from Standard Australian English, with different grammatical structures, much less understand the socio-linguistic aspects of Aboriginal English. “Aboriginal cultures and ways of looking at the world and Aboriginal ways of using English are fundamentally different from those of non-Aboriginal people.”22  Teachers may reject an Indigenous student’s contribution in class on the basis that their English expression is poor or incorrect. Indigenous students can find it hard to experience success when they are only taught in Standard Australian English or encouraged to speak ‘properly’, and this initial rejection experienced when their language is not recognized or their home culture has not been respected has serious long-term effects.23   “Students need to continue to use (and feel good about using) Aboriginal English. Standard Australian English needs to be an addition to their linguistic repertoire, not a replacement.”24   When students come to school fluent in their primary language and they leave school essentially monolingual in English we have negated the meaning of the word education because we have made them less than they were.” 25

            Another perception in the community that can damage Indigenous students’ self–esteem and possibilities for success is the belief that the gap in educational outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian students is ‘normal’26. Incidents have been commonly reported such as that in which a parent, distressed that one class came in the bottom 20% of the state, was told: “that’s not bad for Aboriginal kids”.27 Lack of comprehension of Indigenous students’ special needs and learning styles often leads to inappropriate teaching responses such as the failure to place high expectations upon Indigenous students’ work and the application of ability grouping, which can reinforce the disadvantage of ‘low achievers’. As Merridy Malin discusses in her article ‘The visibility and invisibility of Aboriginal Students in the Classroom’28, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students’ considerable talents may be rendered irrelevant in the classroom where no channels are found for the expression of their competence.

            In Victoria there exists what Barry Judd, lecturer in Indigenous Studies at Monash University, has identified as “the deeply ingrained perception out in the broad community that Indigenous people are an issue for other states”29  The fact is that when we observe the map of population distribution, Victorian teachers are more likely to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders students in their class than not. The 1996 census also showed that the Indigenous population is currently expanding at a rate more than twice that of the total population, with an average rate of growth of around 2.3%. The population was projected to grow between 1996 and 2001 from 368,000 to 469,000, a 21.5% increase.30  

            As a result of this ‘deeply ingrained perception’ and the various attitudes outlined above, the education of Indigenous students has not been regarded as an area of core business in and across Victorian educational curricula. Indigenous programs are often marginalized in all educational institutions, and there remains little movement between Indigenous and mainstream programs. 31

The power of teachers and the curriculum

In her address to the National Education and Employment Forum 2000, Penny Tripcony reminds educators of the power of individual teachers in helping young Indigenous students experience success throughout the critical formative period of identity that is childhood and adolescence.32  She quotes Groome (1995)33: “Aboriginal children need to develop pride in themselves. They need positive support to overcome negative self – concept and self esteem.” A flexible and caring environment created by individual teachers who are informed about local Indigenous community issues and histories can make a great difference towards adequately including Indigenous students and boosting their confidence in their ability to succeed within the education system. The Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DETYA) report on positive self-identity for Indigenous students quotes a parent at an Aboriginal Student Support and Parent Awareness program (ASSPA)  (bold included): “… it’s important to get the right people. Things like having a bus to bring the kids who don’t come is a good idea, but it’s a simple answer ... just a band aid. People are the important thing. We need teachers to have a better understanding of the culture ... (and) be aware of the social problems.”34 

            Curriculum decisions in educational institutions can also develop in students the knowledge and skills to contribute to social change and justice. Tripcony cites Keeffe who “writes of the ... negative and positive force ... of curriculum as ... something which both works on and through people ... its mode of operation (viewed) as both enabling and constraining.”35 As educators we must be aware of the need for - and actively pursue the concept of - inclusion within and across the curricula. In Victoria in 2001, The Department of Employment Education and Training’s (DEET) Yalca Partnership in Education and Training – Koorie Educational Policy (Victorian Aboriginal Education Association (VAEAI))  included in its objectives:

“the implementation of strategies which will increase the participation and outcome rates of Koorie students, provide a supportive and culturally relevant learning environment, provide to all Victorian Students an understanding and respect for Koorie Traditional and contemporary cultures and that Koorie education forms part of the core business of all sectors of education.” 36 

            The third principle of public education in Victoria announced in the report Public Education: the Next Generation produced by DEET, commits educators to ensuring inclusiveness and equity for all students regardless of their racial background. At the same time the MCEETYA taskforce emphasises the need to adopt a ‘relentless and urgent’ approach to achieving the goals of the Adelaide Declaration:

“Of key importance to the successful integration of new approaches into the mainstream of the school curriculum will be educators who know, understand and can work collaboratively with their Indigenous students; have high expectations and standards; and are flexible, risk taking facilitators who are receptive to innovation. (Flexibility is) ... best described as a relentlessness of educators to do whatever it takes to improve student achievement and rapidly accommodate to changed circumstances”

            We as educators must be ready to take on these challenges. But are we sufficiently prepared?

Reconciliation: Every teacher is responsible

Whether you teach SOSE, English, Science or Mathematics you are encouraged, and may indeed be asked, to teach Indigenous perspectives within your subject. The VAEIA believes that Aboriginal Studies must form an integral part of every student’s education.

“This would lead to an understanding and appreciation by all students of the contemporary cultural heritage and lifestyle of Aborigines, as well as the history and traditional aspects of Aboriginal history. Aboriginal studies should be introduced across the curriculum as well as a separate subject.” 37

            Why should Indigenous perspectives be a priority over those of the many other cultural groups in Australia? Some educators may believe that maintaining a sensitive and inclusive attitude for all students is sufficient to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders students’ needs be met, and that training should focus on inclusive pedagogy rather than specialized Indigenous Education courses.

            When considering this issue, we must remember that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not just another of the myriad racial groups that make up contemporary Australia’s multi–cultural population. They are the original owners of the land upon which our institutions were and will be built, at the expense of their culture and well being. The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (Johnston, 1991), identified Australia’s Indigenous peoples as the group in Australia that have suffered the ‘greatest degree of disadvantage over the longest time’ making positive discrimination necessary to compensate for past disadvantage.38   39

            Prioritising the inclusion of Indigenous issues in education is on the national policy agenda as "an issue of national significance, paramount to the nation becoming a harmonious, egalitarian society”40, and the importance of education is emphasized as an integral part of the reconciliation process. Educators are responsible for prioritising these issues in their classroom so as to work towards redressing the inequities and exclusion suffered by their Indigenous students. Within the ACSA principles of curriculum design and delivery, it is stated that teachers should empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by respecting their knowledge and skills and that, as a demonstration of this respect, Indigenous Education should be taught as discrete subjects and as perspectives across curriculum.

The need for increased focus on pre- service teacher training

“The ongoing omission of Aboriginal Studies from Australian teacher education pre-service and in-service courses continues to contribute to perpetuating Aboriginal students’ educational disadvantage and maintains the vast majority of Australians’ ignorance about our shared history. Put simply, This great Australian silence is disempowering both Aboriginal and other Australians to address critical social justice issues of our time.” (Craven and Mooney, 2000)

            Indigenous Studies is not included as a compulsory unit in most institutions that offer pre– service teacher training. Indigenous Education is offered as part of the Bachelor of Teaching Primary strand at The University of Melbourne, and Esme Bamblett of the Koorie Education Strategy Team believes that it should be compulsory in all teacher training, as a result of her experience as a lecturer in that course in1999. She observed that student teachers had very little preparation with regards to Indigenous issues, and was surprised that many maintained very strong opinions about issuess such as Native Title. At the end of the course, only a few students had been led to change what she believed to be erroneous views, but Esme stated: “Even if I influenced one person, I would be happy”41. She feels that a compulsory subject would  “whet the appetites” of teachers and motivate them to find out more about Indigenous perspectives; that there is a reason to find out, and that they are responsible to teach these issues in a sensitive way. She believes that if Indigenous Studies are included in teacher training, it will be legitimized as a subject impacting upon the broader school curriculum.

            Lee Simpson is presently a lecturer in Indigenous Studies in the Primary Education stream of the Bachelor of Education at The University of Melbourne. She agrees that making Indigenous Studies compulsory will have a ripple effect and pervade all teaching practices: “Teachers have an impact on all other professions. If we can inform students about issues that form their shared past, it will greatly aid the move towards practical reconciliation”42. She feels that it is important to be able to inform students of Australia’s true history, and equip teachers so that they are able to debunk the myths that abound, otherwise the mis-information that sustains a negative impact upon Indigenous students will perpetuate.

            Ms. Simpson feels that there is no use producing resources for teachers if they are not trained to use them. Teachers should be given a solid generic context of Aboriginal history and issues, then afforded the strategies to find out more information from their local areas’ Indigenous support groups, parents and students themselves. She firmly believes that learning about how include Indigenous perspectives in education will be good for all inclusion practices.

            Other commentators agree that training in Indigenous issues can only aid educators in their inclusive practices. The Indigenous Law Resources’ ‘Going Forward: Statement on Social Justice for First Australians’ cites appropriate training to prepare for dealing with Indigenous issues/teaching Indigenous students and dealing with subtle or blatant racism as an essential pre-requisite for teachers that will have value in a broader multi–cultural context.43  In an interview in the Education Age, Barry Judd, lecturer in Indigenous Studies at Monash University states: “My argument is that this is Australia. The Indigenous people are the first people, and any cross-cultural skills you learn through Indigenous Studies are easily transferable to other non-Anglo Saxon communities.”  The House of Representatives Select Committee on Aboriginal Education (1985) stressed the importance of Indigenous education as part of preparation for teaching in a “multi-cultural Australia”.44  

            The Australian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) ‘Matter of Survival’ Committee called for urgent action with respect to teacher training:

“The committee recognizes that many demands are made for subjects to be incorporated into basic teacher training. However, the lack of success of the current system and the significant negative impact inadequate training has on teacher effectiveness leads the committee to repeat the recommendation of the select committee on teacher training but with an additional emphasis on Aboriginal English.” 45

            The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in their Rural and Remote Education Inquiry Briefing Paper state: “Whether graduates intend to teach in rural, remote or metropolitan schools, it is important that they engage in Indigenous cultural awareness training” including that “Institutions should provide more than ‘superficial sensitivity training’.” 46  

            Including compulsory Indigenous perspectives in teacher training would lead to fulfilling another policy priority to increase the participation of Australian Indigenous peoples in tertiary education and teacher training.

“Recent research examining the persistence and success rates of Indigenous tertiary students have concluded that the lack of cultural affirmation provided by Australian universities is a significant factor contributing to the high ‘drop out’ rates (of  Indigenous students)” 47

            A more inclusive curricula would help to attract Indigenous students when they observe that their cultures and traditions are respected and that their voice may be heard. 48  In the National Review of Education For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (1995) it was found that funding increased funding is not helpful without a parallel increase in inclusive practices “greater access to systems of education that have historically and traditionally failed Aboriginal and TSI peoples, without reforms involving cultural inclusivity, can only lead to greater experiences of ‘failure’ and alienation.” 49

The way forward

Beginning teachers must rise to the challenge to act as change agents, and redress the inequities suffered by Australia’s Indigenous students within the education system. Informing yourself as to Indigenous history, especially in the local area where your school is situated and the various Indigenous community support groups and education programs that exist are a good place to start when preparing to meet the needs of your students and to include Indigenous perspectives into your curriculum.

            Be prepared to be educated. Ask who the Indigenous students are in your school and ensure that you investigate ways to establish a relationship with them, their parents and their community in order to best serve their needs. You are one of the factors that can contribute to Indigenous young peoples’ formation of a positive self -identity. The DETYA report “Positive Self – Identity for Indigenous Students and it’s Relationship to School Outcomes” includes ‘caring’ as one of the major recommended qualities that teachers of Aboriginal Students should possess. The report continues that teachers of Indigenous students “need to be warm and supportive; make realistic demands of students, act in a responsible, businesslike and systematic manner; and be stimulating, imaginative and original.” 50

            The report also stated that “the powerful influence on self – identity (for Indigenous students) of individual teachers was comple-mented by the influence of the total school system within which students experienced their education.” 51  Incorporating Indigenous perspec-tives within the whole school system includes resourcing, such as the provision of homework centres and Indigenous resource rooms, the inclusion of Indigenous cultural activities in the school calendar - where members of the local Indigenous community are invited to share their knowledge, skills and histories with the students - and the inclusion of Indigenous studies and languages and their perspectives in the curriculum. 

Websites that offer support and information

includes :

-    overview of Commonwealth Indigenous Education programs;

-    ABSTUDY, Indigenous Ambassadors Program;

-    National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy Strategy( NIELNS);

-    Indigenous Education Direct Assistance programs (IEDA);

-    Indigenous Strategic Initiatives Program ( IESIP);

-    Working Together for Indigenous Youth – a National Framework. A Commonwealth Government Initiative through the National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy Strategy (NIELNS) at:

•  Reconciliation Australia

•  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission

•  Sofweb

Includes Koorie Curriculum Materials;  Positive self  identity for Indigenous students and its relationships to school outcomes a project funded by DETYA July 2000 (QUT- contributors)

•  Victorian Aboriginal Education Association

Includes policies such as Yalca Koorie Education policy 2001 and regional committees and education units and support networks.

•  Ministerial Council on Employment, Education training and Youth affairs (MCEETYA)

Includes a model of more culturally inclusive and educationally effective schools:


Bibliography and Web Sources

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.  At: [Accessed 20 September 2002]

Australian Bureau of Statistics (1994).  At:

Australian Curriculum Studies Association Inc (ACSA). At:  [ accessed 15 October 2002]

Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Rural and Remote Education Inquiry Reports at:   [accessed 15 October 2002]

Commonwealth of Australia(2000) Indigenous participation in Higher Education. May 2000 report for the Department of Training and Youth Affairs. Occasional paper series. Higher Education Division.

Commonwealth of Australia (1999). National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2000-2004.  JS McMillan Printing Group.

Commonwealth of Australia (2000) Positive Self–Identity for Indigenous Students and its Relationship to School Outcomes. Project funded by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Queensland University of Technology.

Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training.   At:   [accessed 10 October 2002]

Craven, R. and Mooney, J. (2000) ‘Teaching the Teachers to Understand And Teach Indigenous Australian Studies: New Models, Teaching Strategies and Resources To Empower and Educate A Nation.’ Paper presented at the American Educational  Research Association Annual Meeting, April 24-28, 2000, New Orleans, LA.

Department of Employment, Education and Training (DEET) (1989).  National Aboriginal Education Policy. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.

Department of Employment, Education and Training (DEET) (1993). National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service

Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DETYA) (2000) What Works?: Explorations in Improving Outcomes for Indigenous Students. IESIP SRP National Coordination and Evaluation Team; David McRae et al. Published by the Australian Curriculum Studies Association and National Curriculum Services.

Guy, R. and Russell, A. (2001) ‘Against the Odds’ in Education Age, 26 November, 2001

House of Representatives Select Committee on Aboriginal Education (1985). Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.

Johnston, E. (1991) Australian Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, National Report by Commissioner Elliott Johnston.

Judd, B. (unpublished) Australia’s Indigenous People and Higher Education. Swinburne University of Technology and Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies, Monash University.

Malin, M. (1995) ‘Aboriginal Education, Policy and Teaching’ in Hatton, E. (ed) (1994) Understanding Teaching, Harcourt Brace, Sydney,  pp 315 -331.

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) (1999). The Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century, Curriculum Corporation, at:  [accessed 25 September 2002]

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) Taskforce (2000). Report of MCEETYA Taskforce on Indigenous Education at:  [accessed 28 September 2002]

Phillips, V. (1992) ‘Language, cultural identity and empowerment in the dominant culture’ in  Aboriginal child at school, 20, (25 – 30)

Reconciliation Australia. At:  [accessed 5 October 2002]

Reconciliation Australia. At:  [Accessed 20 September 2002]

Sofweb. At:   [Accessed 22 September 2002]

The Australian Legal Information Institute (AustLII).  Reconciliation and Social Justice Library.  A Matter of Survival. At:  [accessed 1 Oct 2002]

The Brisbane Institute. Transcripts: National Education and Employment Forum 2000.  At:  [accessed 29 September 2002]

Tripcony P. (2002). ‘The Most Disadvantaged? Indigenous Education Needs’: Address to the National Education and Employment Forum 2000 at:  [accessed 29 September 2002]

Victorian Aboriginal Education Association. Yalca partnership in education and training – Koorie Education Policy 2001.  At:  [Accessed 28 September 2002]


1    National Statement of Principles and Standards for more culturally inclusive schooling in the 21st Century.  (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment ,Training and Youth Affairs, March 11th 2000)

2    see: Reconciliation Australia: Strategic Plan 2001-2003: 2.3 Wider Community Education

3    MCEETYA Discussion Paper: Taskforce on Indigenous Education 2000 (appendix 6)

4    Indigenous Participation in Higher Education, (May 2000).  Report for the Department of Training and Youth Affairs

5    ‘Australian Social Trends 2002: Education - Participation in Education: Education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.’ Source: ABS (2001) National Schools Statistics Collection.  [ accessed 15 October 2002]

6    ibid:  Source: Lokan, J., Greenwood, L. and Cresswell, J. (2001) How Literate are Australia's Students?  Australian Council for Educational Research, Melbourne.

7    Tripcony cites: Patten, J. T. (1938). The Australian Abo Call. (1) April, 1938. (Facsimile reproductions. Sydney: Abart Productions) in her address to the National Education and Employment Forum (2000)  [ accessed 29 September 2002]

8    Some specific goals of the 1989 National Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Policy (DEET, 1989) included: Goal 2: Increase the number of Aboriginal people employed as educational administrators, teachers, curriculum advisors, teachers assistants, home-school liaison officers and Goal 21: To provide all Australian students with an understanding of and respect for Aboriginal traditional and contemporary cultures.

9 #underlying [accessed 10 October    2002]

10  Australian Curriculum Studies Association (ACSA):  [accessed 15 October, 2002]

11  The National Review of Education for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Policy (1995) states: “While more opportunities to express their views about policy, programs and practices of education have been created, concerns remain that their views are not heard… They do not enjoy equitable and appropriate outcomes from education.”

12  MCEETYA (1999) Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century:

      Goal 3.3 Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander students have equitable access to, and opportunities in, schooling so that their learning outcomes improve, and, over time, match those of other students.

      Goal 3.4  All students understand and acknowledge the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultures to Australian Society and possess the knowledge and skills and understanding to contribute and benefit from, reconciliation between indigenous and non- indigenous Australians.

13  MCEETYA (1999)  [Accessed 2 October 2002]

14  Principles: “Schooling acknowledges the capacity of all young indigenous people to learn by:

1.1 providing a climate that welcomes and values all indigenous students and that expects and supports them to achieve equitable and appropriate educational outcomes

1.2 establishing effective teaching/ learning relationships between the educator and the indigenous learner

1.6 (iii) supports all students to understand and acknowledge the value of Aboriginal and Torres straight Islander cultures to Australian society and possess the knowledge, skills and understanding to contribute to, and benefit from, reconciliation between indigenous and non- indigenous Australians

      Standards: Schooling is socially just when education facilities and services are provided by Governments which:

1.8 ensure that all teachers and education workers involved in teaching Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander students participate in effective training in cross cultural pedagogy and ESL.”

15  [accessed 15 October 2002]

16  MCEETYA Taskforce (2000) p 10

17  National Aboriginal and  Torres Strait Islander  Education Policy (1990)



20  Phillips V (1992). pp 25 – 30

21  DETYA (2000). ‘Positive Self – Identity for Indigenous Students and its Relationship to School Outcomes’ p12

22  ibid  p12

23  AustLII - Reconciliation and Social Justice Library:  ‘Matter of Survival – School–based Programs’ Recommendation 5.3

24  DETYA (2000). op cit p12

25  Gwen Bucknell, Notre Dame University, Broome WA.  quoting Cumming, J. (1990)

26  MCEETYA (2000). Statement of Principles and Standards p 13

27  NSW Education Department Report: Submission 25, in Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s Rural and Remote Education Inquiry Briefing Paper

28  Malin ( 1995), p 168

29  Guy, R. and Russell, A. (2001). Education Age

30  MCEETYA (2000). Statement of Principles and Standards App 6 p 46

31  MCEETYA Discussion Paper: Taskforce on Indigenous Education (April 2000): Achieving Educational Equality for Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.


33 Groome, H. (1996). ‘What is This Thing Called ‘Culture’’. Unpublished paper (pp. 4-5)

34  DETYA ( 2000) p12

35  Keef, K. (1992: 8) in Tripcony, P. (2002)

36  DEET ( 2001). Yalca p 6

37           Sofweb: Koorie 2000 curriculum materials

38  Malin (1995) p 162

39  Johnston (1991):  Recommendation 295 states: “all teacher training courses include courses which will enable student teachers to understand that Australia has an aboriginal history and Aboriginal viewpoints on social, cultural and historic matters, and to teach the curriculum which reflect those matters.”

40  Australian Curriculum Studies Association (2002)

41  Interview with Esme Bamblett, October 2002

42  Interview with Lee Simpson, October 2002

43  AustLII  Reconciliation and Social Justice Library:  [accessed 1 October 2002]

44  “pre-service courses should ensure that all new teachers have a background in Aboriginal culture, the history of Aboriginal people and their place in modern Australian society. The purpose of these courses should be to ensure that all teachers are aware of the special educational needs of Aboriginal students and have adequate understanding of the context in which the needs arise.”

45  AustLII - Reconciliation and Social Justice Library:  ‘Matter of Survival – School–based Programs’ Recommendation 5.13

46  The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, in their Rural and Remote Education Inquiry Briefing Paper 8. ‘Pre-service preparation’.

47  DETYA case study (1996), in Judd (Unpublished) p17

48  “through the leadership of their Vice chancellors, universities would lead the nation in terms of recognising Indigenous peoples’ knowledges as authentic Australian knowledge systems. A critical element in such recognition will be for universities themselves to understand and accept, that they are still operating as colonisers. Western knowledges dominate all education institutions in this country and, hence, every aspect of our lives. It is time for Australia to move forward. The philosophical traditions of Indigenous peoples need to be restored and universities need to meet the challenge. To decolonise their knowledge practices, listening, dialogue and [make the] structural changes necessary.” The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations: ’Indigenous Post-graduate Education: A Project into the Barriers which Indigenous Students must Overcome in Undertaking Postgraduate Education.’ p 27, quoted in Judd op cit p22

49  DEETYA case study (1996), in Judd op cit p17 

50           DETYA (2000) p 12

51           ibid p 13

[Chapter 5] [Contents] [Chapter 7]


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