‘For thousands of years, you have fashioned a culture that endures to this day. And during all this time, the Spirit of God has been with you’
‘Your culture, which shows the lasting genius and dignity of your race, must not be allowed to disappear’
‘You lived your lives in spiritual closeness to the land, with its animals, birds, fishes, waterholes, rivers, hills and mountains. Through the closeness to the land you touched the sacredness of man’s relationship with God’
‘Let your minds and hearts be strengthened to begin a new life now. Past hurts cannot be healed by violence, nor are present injustices removed by resentment. Your Christian faith calls you to become the best kind of Aboriginal people you can be.’
(Quotes from the Address of Pope John Paull II to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Alice Springs 1986)
Aboriginal Education in the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes includes the provision of a curriculum for all students which incorporates Aboriginal perspectives for all students.
Aboriginal people across the diocese are those who have a strong identity rich in spiritual and personal awareness of themselves. Data from 2016 census indicates 16% Aboriginal students in primary schools across the diocese.
The Catholic Education Office of the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes and all schools affirm and acknowledge that Aboriginal people are the original inhabitants of Australia and recognise their ongoing spiritual closeness to the land, seas and waterways.
Our diocese acknowledges and deeply respects the spiritual beliefs and traditions of Aboriginal people. The following guiding principles are closely aligned with those of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy 2015, (Link to National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy 2015) including:
- Achieve potential: High expectations are held for, and by, Aboriginal children and young people across the diocese.
- Equity: Aboriginal children and young people are able to access the same educational opportunities and achieve the same educational outcomes as other Australians.
- Accountability: The CEO (Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes), all schools and staff are accountable, transparent and responsive.
- Relationships: Meaningful relationships value community, cultural knowledge, wisdom and expertise, demonstrate trust and respect, and provide a strategy to support culture and identity.
- Partnerships: Aboriginal people are engaged in decision making, planning, delivery and evaluation of early childhood schooling and higher education services across the diocese.
- Local approaches: Educational outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people are accelerated through local approaches in our rural and remote communities.
- Quality: Policies, practices, programs and partnerships are inclusive of the needs of Aboriginal children, young people and their families, and are informed by knowledge, evidence and research.
- Access to employment: The CEO and all schools remain committed to increasing employment and promotional opportunities for Aboriginal people.
Commitment to Action please read – Link to our eventual Wilcannia-Forbes CEO Aboriginal Education Policy
Aboriginal Education Support Officer
The CEO employs an Aboriginal Education Support Officer that works collaboratively to assist in building the capacity of diocesan schools to provide contemporary learning and cultural knowledge that will assist in the implementation of Aboriginal Education.
The AESO also will:
- Liaise with and support Aboriginal Education Workers employed throughout the diocese;
- Assist with and provide ongoing support for the continued development of implementation of Aboriginal perspectives and Cross-Cultural Priorities Areas;
- Engage with parents, community and relevant stakeholders on matters of Aboriginal Education within school communities; and
- Commit to working with Aboriginal communities to improve outcomes for Aboriginal people.
Aboriginal Education Workers
The Aboriginal Education Worker (AEW) is an important cultural resource in our schools and their community. Their skills and expertise are valued, utilised and appreciated. The AEW’s responsibilities may include the following areas, essentially enhancing the effectiveness of their role within the school and the wider community.
- Be timetabled in classes to support Aboriginal students
- Participate in staff meetings (with direct input on specific issues relating to Aboriginal students)
- Advise on the pastoral care of Aboriginal students
- Be of assistance to the school’s literacy, numeracy and learning support teams
- Maintain student profiles through home and community visits
- Work closely with other AEWs, Aboriginal Education Support Officer and Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Groups
- Encourage active parent and community support regarding issues in Aboriginal Education
- Provide advice to teachers, parents, community and students on Aboriginal Education in their school context
- Encourage parents and caregivers to be involved in all aspects of their children’s education
Our Aboriginal Education Workers (AEWs) are a fantastic and vibrant group of Aboriginal people who work to support both the Aboriginal students enrolled in our schools and non-Indigenous students as they develop an understanding of the richness and depth of culture and diversity of our Aboriginal communities. At inservices AEWs share stories as they support each other in their work and explore ways to support our Aboriginal students and their families as they participate in the lives of our schools.
Welcome and Acknowledgment of Country http://www.natsicc.org.au/assets/2016_acknowledgement_booklet.pdf
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Council of Catholic School Parents (ATSI CCSP) http://www.ccsp.catholic.edu.au/atsi
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSIC) – http://www.natsicc.org.au/
Stronger and Smarter Institute http://strongersmarter.com.au/
Reconciliation Australia https://www.reconciliation.org.au/
National Sorry Day
The education of Indigenous students is and has always been, a high priority since the earliest days of the Catholic Church presence in Western NSW. Our history shows that there has been a continuing commitment of resources, both personal and financial, to Indigenous education.
This commitment has expressed itself in many ways and in a variety of social and political contexts. For many years, Catholic Missions had the carriage of programs in our remote Aboriginal communities where the Catholic Church has long been active. The Catholic Education Office assumed full responsibility for Catholic education in these remote communities in 1989.