Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture has existed for 50,000 years and is the oldest living culture in the world.
The Koorie (or Koori) community in Victoria comprises 38 languages and 11 language families that have lived on these lands for thousands of years. They are typically connected by a related language and through cultural and mutual interests, totems, trading initiatives and marriage ties¹.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 15,211 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Victoria as of 2016. This number has almost doubled in the previous ten years. Barriers experienced by Indigenous learners² can include
- a lack of teaching materials in languages other than English
- unrelatable or inappropriate context for the subject matter being taught, with little to no Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history being covered in the classroom, and
- a lack of cultural awareness or Indigenous representation in the teaching materials.
Professional learning undertaken for teaching learners from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds should meet descriptors 1.4 and 2.4 of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST), however it may meet other descriptor(s) of the APST depending on the type of professional learning undertaken.
Teachers should consider the modifications to the curriculum and/or practice they will need to make for Indigenous learners to access learning.
If they do not have an Indigenous learner in their learning environment, teachers can
- observe an experienced teacher’s practice and/or approach to an Indigenous learner and base their demonstration of descriptor 1.4 on another student in the school, or
- hypothetically include an Indigenous learner to demonstrate the standard.
Then they will need to ask themselves
- What would I do if I had this learner in my group?
How would I design and implement effective teaching strategies that are responsive to the local community and cultural setting, linguistic background and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners?
The VIT has compiled the following list of professional learning resources for teaching learners from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.
Please note that some of these resources may include names and/or images of deceased individuals.
¹ ANTaR Victoria, Local nations language groups, <https://antarvictoria.org.au/local-nations>, retrieved 22 March 2021
² Korff, J 2021, Barriers to Aboriginal education, <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/education/barriers-to-aboriginal-education>, retrieved 22 March 2021
Last updated: 15 Feb 2024