Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the most significantly disadvantaged group in Australia. According to Oxfam Australia (2017), they are “one of the most impoverished and disadvantaged communities in the world”. There is a significant inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in health and life-expectancy. Indigenous Australians experience shorter life expectancy, higher rates of unemployment, infant mortality & incarceration, lower levels of education and poorer health. It is fact that non-indigenous Australians are going to live on average 10 years longer than Indigenous Australians (Australians Together 2017). These injustices are extremely prevalent within Australia and its society and have been felt by the Indigenous people since the land was declared “terra nullius”.
What the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. is doing to alleviate the situation?
The Victorian Aboriginal Education Association (VAEAI) was first established in 1976 with the aim of increasing the presence and voice of Koorie people in education decision making.
They run various education programs to help the Koori community in Victoria:
Through VAEAI, the Victorian Koorie Community has maintained a strong partnership with the Victorian State Government. In October 2001 both the Victorian State Government and VAEAI recommitted to this partnership with the launch of Yalca: Koorie Education Policy.
The goal of the community is to bring success in Koorie education.
Marrung: Aboriginal Education Plan 2016-2026
The Victorian Government, through the Department of Education and Training, has worked with the Victorian Koorie community to develop this plan. Marrung sets out a 10 year vision and identifies the significant actions for its achievement of successfully integrating koorie education.
Wurreker launched in 2000, it is the vocational training program for the Koorie community developed through VAEAI’s partnership with the Victorian State Government.
National Strategies and Directions
‘In 2008, for the first time in Australian history, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to work towards six targets to significantly reduce the gap in life expectancy and opportunities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.’
The six targets are:
- Close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation
- Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five by 2018
- Ensure access to early childhood education for all Indigenous four year old in remote communities by 2013
- Halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievement for Indigenous children by 2018
- Halve the gap for Indigenous students in Year 12 or equivalent attainment rates by 2020
- Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2018 (As cited on the VAEAI website)
Learn from the President of VAEAI Geraldine Atkinson on the importance of role models in engaging communities and youth in the Indigenous community at the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Education & Transitions, 31st October & 1st November 2018, Pullman Cairns International.