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Indigenous Education:

Timeline Overview

Attitudes &
Actions

1900

National
Strategy

Referendum

193
7
Assimilation
Policy

196
7

196
9
Aboriginal
Study Grant
scheme

199
5

Follow the
Dream

199
9
Adelaide
Declaration

200
2

Closing the
Gap

200
3
Review of
Education

200
7

201
5
Where to
from here?

Attitudes & Actions Prior to

1900

It has been well researched and documented that past attitudes, policies and actions
have generated intergenerational educational (as well as broader social)
disadvantage in Aboriginal people (NSW Government, 2012).

Prior to 1900 and also during the following decades, a common theme of exclusion
of Aboriginal people from educational settings occurred (Western Australian
Aboriginal Child Health Survey, 2005).

An example of this exclusion is the Exclusion On Demand policy for NSW Public
Schools (NSW Government, 2012). Under this policy, the NSW Minister for Education
endorsed the removal of Aboriginal students from public schools if parents of nonAboriginal children protested regarding their presence (NSW Government, 2012).

During this time, it is well documented that many teachers were supportive of this
policy.

In 1909, the Aboriginal Protection Act was passed. This Act endorsed the removal of
Aboriginal children from their families at age 14 by the Aboriginal Protection Board
to partake in an apprenticeship like program (NSW Government, 2012).

1937: Assimilation Policy

In 1937 the Assimilation Policy was adopted at a national conference.

The efforts of all State authorities should be directed towards the education
of children of mixed Aboriginal blood at white standards, and their
subsequent employment under the same conditions as whites with a view to
their taking their place in the white community or on an equal footing with
the whites (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2015).

The policy clearly outlined that ones quality of education was determined by
their heritage (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2015).

All Aboriginal children were not deemed eligible to receive the same quality
of education. They were not treated as equals.

1967:

Referendum

The purpose of the 1967 National Referendum was to the amend the
Australian Constitution (Creative Spirits, 2015).

The successful referendum result enabled the Commonwealth Government


to make laws regarding Aboriginal people (previously a state responsibility)
and to recognize Aboriginal people as Australian citizens (New South Wales
Government, 2012).

There were two main changes proposed in the Referendum, to include


Aboriginal people in the census [and]to allow the Commonwealth
government to make laws for Aboriginal people (The University of Notre
Dame Australia, 2015).

Consequently, the referendum had a positive impact on the education of


Aboriginal people. This is due to the fact that the Federal Government were
able to assign resources to assist in developing policies and procedures
relating to the education of Aboriginal people (Creative Spirits, 2015).

1969:

Aboriginal Study Grants Scheme

The Aboriginal Study Grants Scheme was developed and available to


Aboriginal students from the beginning of the 1969 academic year.

The scheme was implemented due to the low number of Aboriginal


students participating in tertiary education. It was designed to
encourage them to meet their potential and achieve their goals.

The scheme assisted students financially and covered costs associated


with study such as fees, books, equipment and living expenses.

The current ABSTUDY scheme available to Aboriginal students remains


true to its original objectives and goals. It aims to encourage Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander people to take full advantage of the
educational opportunities available, promote equity of education
opportunity and improve educational outcomes (Australian Government
Department of Employment, 2014).

1995:

National Strategy for the Education


of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Peoples

The National Strategy for the Education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island
Peoples was developed in 1995 and planned to be valid from 1996-2002. It was
developed by the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment Training and Youth
Affairs (Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, 1996).

This policy had 21 long term goals categorised into four main groups.

All goals are aimed at improving education outcomes for Aboriginal People. They
include involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in educational
decision-makingequality of access to educational servicesequity of access to
educational servicesequitable and appropriate educational outcomes (Western
Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey, 2005).

The long term goals and objectives outlined in the policy are comparable to
national goals for all students, articulated in the 1999 Adelaide Declaration on
National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-first Century. (Western Australian
Aboriginal Child Health Survey, 2005), meaning the policy demonstrates an
emphasis on equality.

1999: Adelaide Declaration on Schooling

In 1999, Ministers of Education of the State, Territory and Commonwealth


convened as the 10th Ministerial Council on Education, Employment Training
and Youth Affairs (Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood,
2012). The meeting occurred in Adelaide and resulted in the development of
an imperative document known as The Adelaide Declaration on National
Goals for Schooling in the 21st Century (Standing Council on School
Education and Early Childhood, 2012), a document aimed at providing all
Australian
students
with
equal
opportunities
in
regards
to
education(Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood, 2012).

In regards to curriculum, the document highlights eight important areas


including the arts, English, technology, studies of society and environment,
languages other than English, mathematics, science and health and physical
education (Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood, 2012).

Inclusive social goals were also established. The document specifically


addresses Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and states that they
should have equitable access to, and opportunities in, schooling so that
their learning outcomes improve and, overtime, match those of other
students (Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood, 2012).

2002: Follow the Dream

Follow the Dream- Partnerships for Success was implemented by the


Government of Western Australia in 2002 (Government of Western Australia,
2015).

This initiative was aimed at inspiring students commencing their secondary


education and encouraging them to complete year twelve to allow entry into
tertiary study (Government of Western Australia, 2015).

The program also encourages students to attend school regularly, strive to


reach their goals, have high expectations of themselves and engage their
parents and community in their experiences (Government of Western
Australia, 2015).

Follow the Dream- Partnerships for Success provides students with a case
manager so their individual needs are considered providing positives outcomes
as a result. Each site that runs the program employs a Program Coordinator
and associated funding (Government of Western Australia, 2015).

2003-04: Review of Aboriginal Education

A major review of Aboriginal Education was announced in 2003 by Deputy


Premier and Minister for Education and Training and Minister for Aboriginal
Affairs Dr Andrew Refshauge (New South Wales Aboriginal Education
Consultative Group Incorporated and New South Wales Department of
Education and Training, 2004).

The review was conducted as a result of acknowledgement that despite


many previous initiatives by the Commonwealth and New South Wales
Governments, Aboriginal students continue to be the most educationally
disadvantaged student group in Australia (New South Wales Aboriginal
Education Consultative Group Incorporated and New South Wales
Department of Education and Training, 2004).

The review took place during 2003 and 2004 and examined attendance
patterns as well as academic achievement levels and retention of students
(New South Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated and
New South Wales Department of Education and Training, 2004).

A pivotal outcome of the review was to develop comprehensive system-wide


approaches to improving Aboriginal Education and Training (New South
Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated and New South
Wales Department of Education and Training, 2004).

2007:

Closing the Gap

Closing the Gap is a framework which came to fruition in 2007. The Council
of Australian Governments set targets regarding not only education but also
health, child mortality, life expectancy and employment (Council of
Australian Governments, 2015).

The 2008/2009 Commonwealth Budget allocated almost fifty five million


dollars worth of funding to the Closing the Gap-expansion of intensive
literacy and numeracy programs and individual learning plans (Australian
Curriculum Assessment Reporting Authority, 2013).

The growth of literacy and numeracy programs has proven beneficial to


Aboriginal students.

Individual Learning Plans, now recognised as Personalised Learning plans are


created specifically for individual students and are tailored to their diverse
learning needs (Australian Curriculum Assessment Reporting Authority,
2013).

2015 and Beyond:


Where to from here?

The issues relating to the education of Aboriginal people have been


acknowledged since the 1967 Referendum (Red Apple Education, 2015) and
since this time many policies and legislative processes have been
implemented in a hope to benefit Aboriginal people (Red Apple Education,
2015).

Despite this and the demonstration of improvement via statistics, (Red


Apple Education, 2015), Aboriginal students continue to fall in the lowest
category in regards to continuing their education, school attendance and
retention of students (Red Apple Education, 2015).

Today the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority


(ACARA) continues to recognise the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Education Policy as Australias national policy on Indigenous
education (Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority,
2013).

2015 and Beyond #2:


Where to from here?

ACARA currently sets consistent high standards for what all young
Australians should learn as they progress through schooling (Australian
Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority, 2013).

Today, the Australian Government remains committed to supporting


Aboriginal students so they may achieve better results during their education
(Australian Government Department of Education and Training, 2015).
Currently, there is a strong emphasis on school attendance (Australian
Government Department of Education and training, 2015). State and
territory governments have agreed to a range of measures through the
Council of Australian Governments to improve Indigenous school attendance
(Australian Government Department of Education and Training, 2015).

References
Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority. (2013). Curriculum. Retrieved
from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/curriculum.html

Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority, 2013. National Report on


Schooling in Australia 2009. Retrieved from http://
www.acara.edu.au/reporting/national_report_on_schooling_2009/aboriginal_and_torres_strait
_isandereducation/aboriginal_and_torres_strait_islander_education1.html

Australian Government Department of Education and Training. (2015). Indigenous


Schooling. Retrieved from https://education.gov.au/indigenous-schooling

Australian Government Department of Employment. (2014). Abstudy Policy Manual.


Retrieved from
https://docs.employment.gov.au/documents/abstudy-policy-manual-2014

Australian Human Rights Commission. (2015). Rural and Remote Education Inquiry Briefing
Paper. Retrieved from
https://
www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/rural-and-remote-education-inquiry-briefing-paper-26

References
Council of Australian Governments. (2015). Closing the Gap in Indigenous Disadvantages.
Retrieved from
https://www.coag.gov.au/closing_the_gap_in_indigenous_disadvantage

Creative Spirits. (2015). Australian 1967 Referendum. Retrieved from


http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australian-1967-referendum#toc0

Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, (1996). A National Strategy
for the education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Retrieved from
http://scseec.edu.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/Reports%20and%20publicatio
ns/Publications/Cultural%20inclusion%20and%20ATSI/National%20Strategy%20for%20the%20E
ducation%20of%20Aboriginal%20and%20Torres%20Strait%20Islander%20Peoples%201996-2002.p
df

Government of Western Australia. (2015). Aboriginal Education- working in partnership


empowers all to make a significant difference. Retrieved from
http://www.det.wa.edu.au/aboriginaleducation/detcms/navigation/teaching-and-learning/follow
-the-dream

References
New South Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated and New South
Wales Department of Education and Training. (2004). The Report of the Review of
Aboriginal Education. Retrieved from
https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/media/downloads/reviews/aboriginaledu/report/aer2003_04.pdf
NSW Government. (2012). Timeline 1900-1966. Retrieved from
http://ab-ed.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/go/aboriginal studies/timeline/timeline-1900-1966/

Red Apple Education. (2015). Challenges facing the Indigenous Community Today.
Retrieved from
http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-17_u-455_t-1230_c-4707/sa/sose/aboriginal-people-and-torresstrait-islanders/indigenous-people-today/challenges-facing-the-indigenous-community-toda
y
Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood. (2012). The Adelaide
Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century. Retrieved from
http://www.scseec.edu.au/archive/Publications/Publications-archive/The-Adelaide-Declarati
on.aspx

References
The University of Notre Dame Australia. (2015). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher
Education Policy Timeline. Retrieved from
http://www.nd.edu.au/research/olt-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-transition/policy-time
line

Western Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey. (2005). Educating Aboriginal ChildrenIssues, Policy and History. Retrieved from
http://ab-ed.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/go/aboriginal-studies/timeline/timeline-1900-1966/