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Aboriginal education strategy

Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge and respect Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations, and recognises Aboriginal people as traditional owners and occupants of South Australian land and waters.

Aboriginal education strategy

The Aboriginal education strategy (PDF 6.7MB) was released in December 2018 to support Aboriginal students in reaching their full potential.

By nurturing strong foundations in the early years, building on both individual and shared strengths to sustain excellence, valuing wellbeing and enabling self-determined pathways to success:

'the AES will ensure our students not only survive but thrive academically, culturally and socially throughout their learning journey.'
–  Professor Peter Buckskin, chairperson of the South Australian Aboriginal Education and Training Consultative Council (SAAETCC).

The strategy is recognition of the importance of reconciliation, and is underpinned by the development of a culturally responsive workforce within the department. Through continued commitment:

'we need to take action to improve the way we work alongside families and communities to accelerate learning outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people.'
–  Rick Persse, Chief Executive, Department for Education.

About the strategy

The strategy focuses on empowering our Aboriginal students as proud and confident learners, on their paths from birth through to beyond school.

It will also:

  • increase opportunities for children and young people across South Australia to engage with Aboriginal languages
  • create learning environments that respond to students’ cultural needs
  • develop detailed individual learning plans for Aboriginal learners at all of our schools.

An implementation plan for the first 3 years sets out key actions and milestones. Educators, leaders and support services are implementing the strategy at the local level, regularly communicating and collaborating on progress with families and communities.

View the Aboriginal education strategy (PDF 6.7MB).

Strategy goals and focus areas

The goals of the strategy are:

To support the strategy we have:

  • Developed the Aboriginal Learner Achievement Leaders’ resource for Aboriginal students, as part of the school improvement planning process.
  • Established an Aboriginal senior officers consultative group to develop mechanisms to enable greater voice and engagement of the Aboriginal workforce in the development and review of polices, processes and initiatives.
  • Established an expert advisory panel to provide regular input into the implementation of the strategy.

We are also supporting the strategy by:

  • Building a strong Aboriginal workforce, whose development is supported and who have confidence in their career opportunities.
  • Reviewing and simplifying the funding policy for Aboriginal students to allow us to focus on the range of learning goals amongst Aboriginal students.

Updates about how our goals are developing

Goal 1: Aboriginal children develop foundations for success in the early years

Culturally responsive teaching

This project researched how a culturally responsive method of teaching can be implemented in South Australian early childhood settings. The method respects and integrates First Nations perspectives and knowledge systems in teaching approaches, acknowledging the diversity of Aboriginal cultural identities.

Evaluation of Learning Together programs

We are evaluating the Learning Together and Learning Together at Home programs. We will use the evidence gained to invest in programs aimed at engaging children in their learning and developing literacy skills, with collaboration between families and schools.

Parent support workshops

We worked with Aboriginal communities to develop a pilot program to start parent support workshops. This project is complete and is now managed by the Department of Human Services.

One Plan

We developed online learning plans, which are personalised to ensure that Aboriginal students are supported to achieve their full potential. One Plan promotes the continuity of learning through an individualised learning plan for all Aboriginal learners in preschools and schools. We are on track to have this implemented across most partnerships by the end of 2020.

Goal 2: Aboriginal children and young people excel at school

Teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) Hub

We started the online EAL/D Hub. The hub is designed to help teachers provide high-quality education to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners who learn English as an additional language or dialect.

Strengthening languages and literacy

We are expanding existing programs to increase opportunities for children and young people to engage with Aboriginal languages and culture through observation and experience.

Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara language and culture

We are increasing the resources, professional learning, support and pathways for Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara language and culture. This project will provide opportunities for Aṉangu teachers to build on their skills and help identify ways to integrate the Australian Curriculum through Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara language.

For non-Aṉangu teachers this project will provide opportunities to engage in Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara language and culture learning. Teachers will develop their skills to work alongside Aṉangu teachers to deliver the Australian Curriculum and SACE. This will provide teachers with strategies to transfer literacy skills from students’ first languages to Standard Australian English.

South Australian Aboriginal contexts in science initiative

This initiative brings together Elders and community members from participating South Australian Aboriginal Nations and nominated high school science teachers. With support from the department and the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), Elders and community members are working with teachers to embed South Australian Aboriginal understanding, knowledge and ways of knowing into high-quality teaching resources that are aligned with the 95 new science elaborations within the Australian Curriculum: Science Years 7-10.

Goal 3: Aboriginal young people on pathways to success

Employment and traineeship pathways

We are strengthening collaboration within the department to better support employment and traineeship pathways for Aboriginal students. We aim to develop student entry points into the workforce while at school.

Workabout expansion

We are expanding the Workabout program to ensure Aboriginal students can utilise their skills to successfully transition from study to employment, training, or further education.

SAASTA expansion

We increased the number of South Australian Aboriginal Secondary Training Academies (SAASTA) from 16 to 21 to provide greater access for Aboriginal students across South Australia. The expansion included the Aboriginal Women’s AFLW Academy, Aboriginal Basketball Academy and STEM Academy.

Development of the strategy

Background information about the strategy

The strategy was designed in partnership with Professor Peter Buckskin, chairperson of the South Australian Aboriginal Education and Training Consultative Council (SAAETCC) and informed by consultation with Aboriginal students, families, communities and our workforce.

Consultation activities included:

  • face to face consultation sessions for families, parents, carers and the community held across 18 metro and country South Australian locations
  • an online survey, YourSAy page and discussion board, developed by the South Australian Aboriginal Education and Training Consultative Council (SAAETCC)
  • a community forum on the APY lands held in conjunction with the Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Education Committee (PYEC) 
  • a student forum for Aboriginal secondary school students 
  • an online survey for Aboriginal primary and secondary school students to provide input
  • sessions for staff, other government and non-government agencies, expert groups and committees were held in both metro and some country SA locations. 

What this means for children and young people

Aboriginal children and young people will be supported through:

  • responsive learning environments that are inclusive of their cultural needs
  • more confident and supported educators who engage with their families
  • increased access to learning and development programs
  • increased engagement with Aboriginal cultures and language programs
  • individualised learning plans that identify personalised support needed to participate
  • and achieve in education and pathways to further education and employment.

What this means for families and communities

Aboriginal families and communities will:

  • be active participants in their child’s development through contributions to individualised learning plans
  • have input and participation across our services, including within governance structures 
  • have opportunities to engage in the teaching and delivery of Aboriginal cultural knowledge and languages within education settings.

Read more on the above in the key initiatives document (PDF 1.6MB).

Aboriginal Education Directorate

Phone: 8226 4391
Email: education.aboriginalstrategy [at] sa.gov.au