Togetherness means working together as a team to promote the active involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in school governance and teaching activities.
Think of a waterway that absorbs all the creeks that feed into it, making space for the new waters to cross-mingle to create one new entity – a river. When working together, all partners make different contributions, but all voices are heard. This might require making new spaces and processes for school-community partnerships to thrive.
The process for engagement needs to be flexible and reflect practices of inclusivity, provide capacity building for community members, reflect the sharing of power, provide opportunities to participate in decision making and include appropriate accountability measures that help shape school and community partnerships.
This page is built around a Reflect-Inquire-Reflect cycle.
- Start by using Statements of Intent to take a ‘snapshot’ of what you know and do.
- Reflect on your current practice and knowledge.
- Follow the Inquiry questions to explore potential changes to your practice.
- Then Reflect again on what you have learned and can do.
- Capture your reflections and learning and make plans.
Where am I in our Story?
Everyone’s story is unique.
For each Statement, move the slider to indicate your current level of confidence in achieving the intention. A question will appear under each Statement that helps you gauge your current understanding.
Statements of Intent
Everyone’s story is their own.
Look at where you have positioned your sliders above – further to the left or right. Identify the areas that you currently know and do, and don’t know and do, in your teaching practice.
What do I know now?
What do I not know?
What do I do?
Everyone’s story can change.
Reflect on your responses using these prompts:
What credible sources is my knowledge based on?
- Sometimes we ‘just know things’ but our knowledge has come from somewhere. Reflect on the current sources of your knowledge.
What is causing gaps in my knowledge?
- Always probe further than your initial answer. For example, “I didn’t learn this at school” becomes “Why didn’t I learn this at school?”
Why am I doing some things and not others?
- We often just do things a certain way without asking why it’s that way and not another way. If you answer: “It’s how everyone else does it” take it further: “Why is everyone doing it that way”?
What is my part in our story?
Everyone’s journey is their own.
Now you know more about what you know and do and don’t know and do, and why. Use the Inquiry questions and resources and strategies below to continue your learning journey.
- The first thing to do is establish trusting, open relationships with students and parents.
- The What Works project has tips on how to start conversations between schools and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Through individual conversations and group gatherings, aspirations and ways to achieve them can be determined.
- Creating an effective school for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students summarises research that found there were six key areas that contribute to effective schools for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students: cultural environment, quality teachers, community engagement, health and wellbeing, curriculum, and leadership.
- What strategies could you be involved in to begin identifying and achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education aspirations?
- Working with Aboriginal communities: A guide to community consultation and protocols has been written for NSW contexts but can be adapted with consultation with your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
- Who could you engage with to discuss local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander protocols and how these are most appropriately embedded in your school?
- What strategies in the guide could be applied in your context?
- What support would you need, and from whom, to implement some of the strategies you have identified?
- The Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives in Schools guide has a section on strategies for making your school a welcoming place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: Appendix 3, p.67.
- What strategies could you implement at your school? Who would need to be involved?
- What local cultural competence training is available? Who could you ask for more information?
- These two online courses may be good places to start your journey. Note: both courses are free but require you to set up a login.
- How do you understand your own cultural position and what it means for your education practice?
- Inviting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander guest speakers into the classroom is a common strategy. Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander guest speakers has tips you need to consider.
- How would you go about arranging a guest speaker?
- Communicating and engaging with diverse communities explains aspects of culture and history that impact on communication.
- Communicating effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has many cultural aspects to consider.
- How could you incorporate awareness of these aspects in your communication strategies?
- Supporting parents to get engaged with the school community suggests many communication strategies.
- Which ones could be used at your school? How would you go about changing current practice?
Everyone’s journey is unique to place and people.
Identify who you could work with and the changes you could make in your practice.
How can I find out what I need to know?
- Seek Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sources and resources.
What changes can I make?
- Aim for the achievable.
How do I continue our story?
Now that you have learned more and identified ways to change your practice, you have the opportunity to begin the reflection cycle again. Learning never stops!
- What do I know now? Can I expand my sources of knowledge?
- What else can I learn? What’s influencing the things I am learning?
- What can I do? Why am I choosing to do those things?
Your learning journey is now well underway! Use the Reflect-Inquire-Reflect model to keep learning, to change practice, to work together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and improve educational outcomes for our students.
Continue to learn and choose another principle to explore from the menu at the bottom of the page. Enjoy your journey!
ACT Government. (2015). Progressing Parental Engagement School Fact Sheet: Supporting parents to get engaged with the school community [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.education.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/807432/150897-Engaging-with-Aboriginal-and-Torres-Strait-Islander-Families.pdf
Board of Studies NSW. (2008). Working with Aboriginal communities: A guide to community consultation and protocols [PDF]. Accessed at https://ab-ed.nesa.nsw.edu.au/files/working-with-aboriginal-communities.pdf
Dudgeon, P. & Ugle, K. (2014). Communicating and engaging with diverse communities [PDF]. In P. Dudgeon, H. Milroy and R. Walker (Ed.s), Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice (2nd ed.). Retrieved from https://www.telethonkids.org.au/globalassets/media/documents/aboriginal-health/working-together-second-edition/wt-part-3-chapt-15-final.pdf
Early Childhood Research Hub. (2018). Early Childhood Research Hub Professional Learning [webpage]. Accessed at https://learn.ecrh.edu.au
Milgate, G. & Giles-Brown, B. (2013). Creating an Effective School for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students [PDF]. Retrieved from https://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1032&context=indigenous_education
Ngarragunnawali. (n.d). Cultural competence for staff [webpage]. Accessed at https://www.narragunnawali.org.au/rap/actions/21/cultural-competence-for-staff
QCAA. (2007). Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander guest speakers [PDF]. Accessed at https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/approach2/indigenous_g009_0712.pdf
Queensland Department of Education. (2018). Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives in Schools (EATSIPS) [webpages]. Accessed at http://indigenous.education.qld.gov.au/eatsips/Pages/default.aspx
Queensland Health. (2015). Communicating effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0021/151923/communicating.pdf
What Works. (2018). Conversations [webpage]. Accessed at http://www.whatworks.edu.au/dbAction.do?cmd=displaySitePage1&subcmd=select&id=409