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Designing school spaces for Aboriginal children and students with disability

When we design for everyone, we can help all children and students. This includes Aboriginal children and students with disability. Key features of a site should include:

  • circular design instead of having lots of angles
  • attractive spaces that make people feel valued
  • a community centre on site
  • visual design elements like art and flags, upon entry and throughout the site, that are welcoming to Aboriginal people, culturally respectful and meaningful
  • features that allow for storytelling
  • having an acknowledgement of the traditional owners at the entrance of the site.

In addition to the design features, it can also help students if there are Aboriginal staff working on the site. Ask Aboriginal children and students with disability and their families about their needs.

Design features

Design features should respond to the needs around culture, access and inclusion that Aboriginal children and students with disability have.

Community centre on site

If there is an Aboriginal community centre on site it should:

  • connect directly to the outdoors
  • encourage people in the community to be involved.

 Aboriginal community centres should be designed with local Aboriginal elders and community so that the space reflects local culture and needs, and is part of the community.

Help with hearing

Some medical conditions are more common among Aboriginal children. For example, there is a middle ear infection called otitis media. The hearing loss that can come with otitis media can contribute to delayed language and speech, behaviours of concern, and social isolation. However, there are design features that can help students with hearing loss, including:

  • soundfield systems
  • sound absorption materials such as acoustical foam or panels, hanging rugs, fabrics, and cork pin-up boards to help reduce noise.

These features can help all children and students focus on their learning.

Supporting a culturally inclusive curriculum

The Australian Curriculum gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures special attention as part of 3 cross-curriculum priorities. A culturally inclusive space will add extra support to this teaching.

Asset Standards and Environmental Management

This information was provided by the Ministerial Advisory Committee: Children and Students with Disability which ceased in 2019.

For advice on building standards contact:

Phone: 8226 3497
Email: education.standards@sa.gov.au

For advice on inclusive legislation and policies contact:

Inclusive Teaching and Learning

Phone: 8226 0521
Email: education.DPP@sa.gov.au