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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

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.

Related

Visit the Teacher resources page to find out how to log professional learning activities in MyPD.

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?

Video

Click here to see some videos about professional learning for teaching learners from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

Resources

The VIT has compiled the following list of professional learning resources for teaching learners from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

Icon Important Info

Please note that some of these resources may include names and/or images of deceased individuals.

Professional learning resources for teaching learners from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds
Resource
More information
Standard Inquiry matrix The matrix can help you understand the correlation between your inquiry and the APST. It shows the stages of the inquiry process and lists the relevant descriptors at each stage. This resource also provides examples of evidence of practice for descriptors that can be more challenging to evidence such as standards 1.4, 1.5 1.6 and 2.4.
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) – Illustrations of Practice AITSL provides illustrations of practice for a number of descriptors of the APST, click on “Proficient” and go to standards 1.4 and 2.4 to see real examples of practice related to these descriptors.
AITSL AITSL has a range of other resources and research relating to standards 1.4 and 2.4. Type ‘Aboriginal’ in the search bar to find the most up to date and relevant resources. 
Cultural Awareness Module 1, Module 2, and Module 3 This resource by the Department of Education and Training consists of three modules, which provide advice, process and practical suggestions as to what teachers should know and be able to do in order to teach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners and to teach all learners about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, history and culture.
Respect, Relationships and Reconciliation This website provides three modules relating to standards 1.4 and 2.4. This information is targeted at pre-service teachers, however it can still provide useful information for you to develop your practice in these areas as a registered teacher. 
Deadly questions The Department of Premier and Cabinet offers a public space for Aboriginal Victorians to discuss history and how it affects their lives today. The site features a wide range of Q and As, with answers provided by Aboriginal Victorians. A useful resource to explore with learners and to deepen your understanding of Aboriginal history and culture.
FUSE – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture Find resources for learning and fun, and learn more about the different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures across Australia. Discover interactive dreamtime stories or the languages spoken where you live. Understand the important connection between indigenous peoples and the places they come from, and learn about traditional cultural practices.
Marrung A DET program aimed at ensuring all Koorie learners achieve their learning aspirations. The word 'Marrung' is the Wemba Wemba word for Murray Cypress pine tree, and contains resources you can use to help you address standard 1.4.
VAEAI The Victorian Education Association Inc. (VAEAI) contains information and resources that will assist teaching an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander learner, as well as promoting Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history.
Narragunnawalli The education component of Reconciliation Australia has a large range of resources available for use by educators. Resources are aimed at promoting reconciliation through understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, addressing standard 2.4.
Koorie English Online Koorie English Online is a series of modules developed by DET that aim to promote awareness about Koorie English and associated teaching strategies to help strengthen literacy outcomes for Koorie English speakers.
VCAA The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) has a useful guide for mapping opportunities to incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culture throughout the Victorian Curriculum. 
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: 26 Jul 2021