Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council Warren Mundine made a keynote address at the ‘Indigenous Education & Transitions’ conference on the 25th November in Sydney. Mr Mundine opened his address by comparing the journey for improving outcomes for Indigenous students as clearing a forest; it begins by clearing the first tree.
Mr Mundine outlined 10 recommendations, a blueprint for improving Indigenous education outcomes:
- Students need to attend school. The first step in improving outcomes depends on students being present at school. It begins with the first tree.
- Penalties for state government for truancy of students. Enforcing government to be held accountable for Indigenous students not attending school.
- Better resourcing for remote primary schools. Setting a solid foundation in primary schools paves the way for future achievement.
- Family benefits changed to ‘School attendance benefits.’ Parents should be awarded benefits based on their child’s school attendance.
- School’s fit for purpose. Schools need to be capable of teaching Indigenous students with the right resources readily available.
- Schools need to be assigned with culturally capable teachers. Teacher’s need to have a good understanding of aboriginal culture.
- Foster a partner approach. Universities and schools need to adopt a partner approach with remote communities to encourage sustainable relationships.
- Invest in communication infrastructure in remote Communities. If remote Communities have the access to improved communication their learning capabilities are enhanced.
- Indigenous studies made compulsory across Australian curriculum. Indigenous studies should be taught at all schools.
- Indigenous students should be taught in their traditional language. It is easier for Indigenous students to learn when being taught in their traditional language.
Speakers all agreed that there is no blanket approach to closing the gap of disadvantage for Indigenous students. Leadership, mentoring and shared decision making were all highlighted as key themes in successfully improving the outcomes for students.