Every school in Australia should be funded to employ a First Nations cultural educator as part of its core teaching staff, World Vision has told a federal parliamentary committee.
The humanitarian agency has called on the federal, state and territory governments to work together to ensure members of local First Nations communities are employed as teachers to improve students’ knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal culture. This would help teachers and students alike to become more culturally aware and ultimately make the school environment more culturally safe and reduce discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, World Vision believes.
Increasing awareness of First Nations culture would also improve the skills and confidence of non-Indigenous teachers to teach First Nations content across the school curriculum. For example, World Vision is working with teachers to support them to feel more comfortable and better equipped to discuss First Nations culture and history with their students.
World Vision has included the recommendation in a submission to a federal parliamentary inquiry into Education in Remote and Complex Environments.
World Vision’s First Nations senior policy advisor, Dr Scott Winch, said the teaching of Indigenous culture should be delivered by Indigenous people.
“When traditional knowledge and values are taught in schools, they are often delivered by non-Indigenous teachers who have limited capability to authentically deliver this curriculum, particularly in a local context,” Dr Winch said.
“Employing local First Nations community members as core staff members for all schools to be cultural educators would make schools more culturally safe for Indigenous students while increasing awareness of the rich culture and history of First Nations communities.”
“It is now the time to value the knowledge, culture and practices of the first peoples of Australia to be core education for all students.”
Dr Winch said learning about the rich culture of First Nations people and “the true history about this land” should not be optional and deserved much greater respect and importance in schools.
“It lacks reason to be testing students’ knowledge about Ancient Egypt in social studies, but not the oldest continuous culture in the world – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
World Vision has also called for greater support for teachers working in remote areas to learn local First Nations culture and language through government-funded, mandatory cultural immersion programs.
Dr Winch said a greater understanding of, and empathy with, First Nations history and culture would also help to erode much of the racism experienced by Indigenous students in schools. This will then improve school engagement and ultimately lead to better educational outcomes.
World Vision Australia’s First Nations Program has worked for more than 40 years with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations. It supports First Nations communities to lead their own development, with a strong focus on connection to culture and positive wellbeing outcomes for children and families.
World Vision brings a specific focus on early childhood education and youth empowerment programs to ensure Indigenous children and young people are educated for life.
Its focus is on community-led approaches that recognise community strengths, cultures and leadership and support local employment and learning while bringing in technical supports from our extensive development experience both in Australia and internationally.
Story Source: World Vision Australia