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Listening to the indigenous voice in education

ACER releases the Australian Education Review, which suggests that evidence-based research and evaluation programs, with the full participation of Indigenous people, from the national level down to the school, is necessary to successfully address the complex educational disadvantage of Indigenous Australians.

Writing in the Foreword to The Case for Urgency: Advocating for Indigenous voice in education, Prof Mark Rose, Executive Director of Indigenous Strategy and Education at La Trobe University, notes that the Indigenous education policy landscape has over the last 50 years become cluttered with concepts and positions challenging the education profession. Over the same period, the Indigenous voice has not changed but is not properly heard.

“Addressing the educational disadvantage of Indigenous Australians requires real consultation, consistent policies, concerted and persistent effort by governments, and a real commitment to funding,” Rose said.

Dr Kevin Gillan, Executive Director of Education Partnerships in the Northern Territory Department of Education and lead author of the review, said the political process and rapid election cycle mean that insufficient time is allocated to policy implementation, and funding is often cut.

“We need to understand that the educational disadvantage of Indigenous Australians is extremely complex, and that Indigenous Australian children carry with them the educational and trauma debts of their parents, grandparents and communities,” Gillan said.

The review also identifies five key and immediate challenges and case studies of school programs that seek to address those challenges:

  • Deficit and race-based assumptions in Indigenous education.
  • Living away from home to study – boarding schools.
  • Raising school attendance and engagement levels.
  • Providing the best start – early childhood education.
  • Engaging Indigenous communities in educational programs.


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