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Timeline 1967-2007

1967 1968 1969 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976-7 1977 1978
1979 1980 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007  


The 1967 referendum impact on Aboriginal education

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.

The federal government had a greater role in Indigenous education after this date, and could allocate funds and develop policies for Aboriginal education.

Reference: DEST(2001) p 8.

Aboriginal pre-school at Purfleet (north coast NSW)

A pre-school was established for Aboriginal children in Purfleet with the assistance of Save the Children Fund and local fundraising.

It is now known as Girrawong Pre-school, and operates as an Indigenous community-based pre-school.

References: Davis-Hurst (1996) p 85; Dawn (1967) p 15.

Kirinari Hostel opens (Sydney)

Kirinari Hostel opened in Sutherland (Sydney) by the Aboriginal Children’s Advancement Society.

Aboriginal students from remote areas boarded at the Hostel and received AEC scholarships to attend local high schools.

While some students thrived on scholarships and life in the city, some found the estrangement from their families and friends and racism made their school experiences very challenging.

References: ‘Kirinari: a place of learning’, Dawn (1972) p 3; Berg (2003) pp 30–31; Morgan (2006) p 46; Goodall (2004) p 142.

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AWB dissolved

The Aboriginal Welfare Board was abolished and approximately 1000 children were left in institutional or family care.

Reference: HREOC (1997) Section 3, p 8.

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ABSTUDY established

Commonwealth Aboriginal Secondary grants scheme announced.

This program was based on the AEC model for incentive scholarships.

The scheme provided financial assistance to students having difficulty completing school due to economic problems.

Reference: Berg (2003) p 19.

Millie Butt who attended Cowra Mission School (southern NSW) in the 1950s and 60s:

‘I had to leave school because of financial problems. Couldn’t afford uniforms, couldn’t afford lunch money, couldn’t afford shoes, sports uniform and all the things you need to have in school… I didn’t even complete the first year of high school. I had to talk my mother into letting me leave. I said ‘I want to leave, I want to get a job. I want to help out in the family.’

Millie Butt cited in Read (1984) p 21.

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The NSW Department of Education was no longer allowed to refuse Aboriginal students entry to public schools

The Director General of Education removed public school principals’ right to refuse entry to Aboriginal students after letters of complaint appeared in national newspapers.

The letters pointed out that the Teachers Handbook allowed for Aboriginal students’ exclusion due to home conditions or non-Aboriginal community opposition.

In response, the section was removed.

References: Parbury (1999) p 72; Harris (1976) pp 7–8.

Aboriginal Teachers Aides employed

Vera Byno from Weilmoringle and Heather Allen from Walhallow (northern NSW) were employed as Aboriginal Teachers Aides by the AEC.

Teachers Aides assisted students with language and teaching approaches in the classroom and were educational role models.

The NSW Department of Education created 22 Aboriginal Teachers Aide positions after the initial intake.

References: Berg (2003) pp 21–23; New Dawn, 1973, p 14.

Tent Embassy in Canberra established

The Tent Embassy was established in front of Parliament House, Canberra.

It drew attention to ongoing effects of dispossession and the lack of compensation received by Indigenous communities.

The Tent Embassy is still occupied today, despite various attempts to remove it by police.

Reference: Goodall (1996) pp 338–339.

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Scholarships program extended

Scholarships were extended to all Aboriginal students attending secondary school.

The extension of scholarships was recognition of the economic difficulties, which many Aboriginal students and their families faced in completing education.

Reference: Berg (2003) p 19.

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Technical Education courses for Aboriginal students

Sydney Technical College began to offer vocational training courses designed for Aboriginal students without their School Certificate qualification.

Courses in engineering trades and home science were offered as well as classes in expression, Aboriginal cultures and industry.

Reference: Neill (1991) p 78.

Aboriginal education staff lobby for Aboriginal Teachers Aides

Evonne Bolton, Bill Rose, Olive Campbell, Evelyn Crawford and others took the case for the employment of Aboriginal teachers and Teachers Aides in schools to the NSW Education Department.

Reference: Crawford (1993) pp 260–262.

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Schools Commission and the formation of the Aboriginal Consultative Group

The Commonwealth Schools Commission established a standing committee to advise them on Aboriginal education, selected by Indigenous people from across Australia.

The Committee recognised that education needed to be considered in a wider context of health and welfare and recommended the establishment of consultative groups in each state and liaison social workers for schools.

It acknowledged developments such as outstation schools, employment of indigenous teachers, bilingual programs and tertiary courses developed for indigenous students.

The advisory group became the Aboriginal Consultative Group.

References: O’Brien (1987); Fletcher (1989a) pp 312–313; Partington (1998) pp 48–49.

Education for teachers regarding racism

The Department of Aboriginal Affairs provided support for programs in race relations for teacher education students.

This recognised that training teachers needed to learn more about Aboriginal cultures, students and learning approaches.

Reference: Elphick (1989) p 216.

Aboriginal Teachers Aide course began at the University of Sydney

Alan Duncan and Heather Allan established the Aboriginal Teachers Aide training course at the University of Sydney.

The course acknowledged that professional recognition and training was required for this important role.

Aboriginal educators such as Joyce Woodberry started work at schools in La Perouse, Redfern and Mt Druitt (Sydney).

Evelyn Crawford in Brewarrina (Northern NSW) and Betty Wright (Kempsey) were other early graduates.

References: Berg (2003) pp 23–24; Woodberry (2003) p 154; Courtney (1984), p 3.

Foundational NSW AECG member Joyce Woodberry:

‘Education is such an important issue to us. To me, it’s a tool that makes other things possible. If you don’t have education you can’t get a job, it involves your health and if your health is no good and you don’t get decent housing – it just gets worse.’

Woodberry (2003) p 155.

National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) formed

National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association established in Sydney.

This organisation established Arts training programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

NAISDA eventually included certificate and diploma courses with academic, training and cultural studies included.

Reference: Horton (1994) p 755.

Aboriginal Unit established at the NSW Department of Education

The Aboriginal Unit at the NSW Department of School Education was established.

Education providers begin to cater for specific needs of indigenous students.

References: NSW AECG Inc and NSW DET (2004).

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Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) development and expansion

Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (including Margaret Valadian) advised the Commonwealth Schools Commission to establish state AECGs.

The Commonwealth Schools Commission assisted with funding state Education Departments to form their own AECGs.

AECGs provide invaluable guidance and involvement in Aboriginal education though community representatives.

Reference: Parbury (1999) pp 77–78.

Evelyn Crawford (Baarkinji), Teachers Aide, Home-School Co-ordinator, TAFE Regional Co-ordinator for Far Western NSW:

‘About this time, the white education people were agreeing with what we’d been talkin’ about on that tree root on the river bank at Bre – that it would be good if there was someone who could advise them about Aboriginal people. It was us four [Bill Rose, Olive, Evonne and Evelyn] that started what became the Aboriginal Educational Consultative Group (AECG).’

Crawford (1993) p 269.

Adult education – management training initiatives

Natasha McNamara and Margaret Valadian lobbied for funding to conduct management training programs to equip remote communities to run their own organisations.

They established the Aboriginal Training and Cultural Institute in Balmain, Sydney to provide Aboriginal people with training in community management and Aboriginal Studies.

References: Valadian (1991) p 7; Plater etal (1994) p 244.

According to Valadian (1991), in those days the AECG provided the only means of channelling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities’ views to State and Federal governments.


First Aboriginal law graduate from the University of NSW

Pat O’Shane, formerly a teacher in Queensland schools, became the first Aboriginal graduate from Law at UNSW.

She later became a magistrate.

Reference: Heiss &McCormack (2002). Timeline from cityofsydney website

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NSW Anti-Discrimination Act passed

The NSW Anti-Discrimination Act made discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race or gender illegal.

An Anti-Discrimination Board was established to investigate cases.

Reference: Fletcher (1989a) pp 314–315.

Aboriginal Fellow appointed at Armidale (northern NSW) College of Advanced Education (CAE)

Armidale College of Advanced Education appointed Lillian Holt as their first Aboriginal Fellow.

Holt planned the first diploma of Aboriginal Studies offered at Armidale CAE.

Reference: Elphick (1989) p 216.

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Anti-Discrimination Board Report on Aboriginal Education

The Anti-Discrimination Board Report on Aboriginal Education recommended that the NSW Education Department develop education policies with Aboriginal people which would support self-determination.

It also recommended employment of Aboriginal people at higher levels of management and decision-making.

Reference: Fletcher (1989a) pp 317–322.

Aboriginal Programs developed at Sydney Technical College

The first co-coordinator of Aboriginal Programs was employed at Sydney Technical College.

Reference: Neill (1991) p 84.

Graduate Diploma in Aboriginal Education at Armidale CAE (northern NSW)

The Graduate Diploma in Aboriginal Education offered at Armidale College of Advanced Education.

It was one of the earliest programs in Aboriginal Education offered in NSW.

James Miller author of Koori: a Will to Win was a graduate of this course.

Reference: Elphick (1989) p 216.

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Aboriginal Education programs developed by TAFE

Aboriginal Education Programs were developed by the Department of Technical and Further Education.

Many Aboriginal students returned to education as adults, favouring the combined work/study approach of TAFE, as well as the flexibility of the courses.

References: NSW AECG Inc and NSW DET (2004) p 35; Parbury (2005) p 189; DET (1983) p 104.

Elsie Heiss (Wiradjuri) discusses her experience of TAFE:

‘I didn’t really start re-educating myself until about 1988, when I went back to TAFE and said, I’ve got to get more education’… I went right through. I did a fulltime TAFE course… I got the highest marks in the TAFE in 1989! I thought that was a great achievement for someone who had only finished off in Year 8.’

Heiss (2003) p 218.

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National Aboriginal Education Committee Policy

The NAEC committee, which emerged from the Aboriginal Consultative Group, produced the first Indigenous education policy.

It emphasised the importance of building on cultural heritage, the importance of Indigenous studies for all Australian people, promotion of cross-cultural understanding, skills acquisition, and Aboriginal people’s involvement in managing their own education.

Reference: Partington (1998) pp 49–50.

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NSW Aboriginal Education Policy

The first NSW Aboriginal Education Policy was developed, as advised by the AECG and DET.

It focused on involving Aboriginal communities and students in education, enhancing Aboriginal students self-esteem and cultural identity, and teaching all students about Aboriginal societies past and present.

References: Parbury (1999) p 78; Horton (1994) p 168; Wray et al (2005b) p 1.

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NSW Land Rights Act passed by NSW Parliament

The Act was intended to partially compensate Aboriginal people for loss of land through invasion, through allocation of a proportion of land tax to communities through land councils.

This is especially important in intensively occupied NSW.

The Act saw the establishment of NSW Land Councils system.

Reference: Goodall (1996) p 356.

Tertiary Preparation course pioneered by Tranby

Tranby College established the initial Aboriginal Tertiary Education Preparatory course.

Tranby staff worked with TAFE teachers to develop TAFE’s preparation courses.

These programs eased the transition to study for people who were returning as adults to study and for students who had left school early.

Numerous organisations have developed such programs since.

Reference: Tranby Co-op (1986) p 10.

An example of local education initiative

Peak Hill Public School (northern NSW) developed an Aboriginal education policy with Aboriginal communities in the area and the local AECG.

Reference: McKeown & Keed (1991) p 136.

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Eora College starts in Redfern, Sydney

Eora an indigenous college that focused on visual arts and media within TAFE system commenced.

Numerous performers, artists, filmmakers have trained there since its establishment.

Artists Gordon Syron and Bobby Merritt were involved in establishing the college and were early teachers at Eora.

References: Review of Aboriginal Education, Ch3, p 166; NMA (2007); Pattison, (1987) p 8.

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Aboriginal Medical Student Entry Program begins at University of Newcastle

The Medical Students Program commenced at the University of Newcastle with the aim of increasing the number of qualified ATSI people in medical fields.

Community representatives were involved in the selection of students and pre-admission bridging courses were offered to successful applicants.

Awabakal Aboriginal Co-operative and the Awabakal Medical Service were involved in the program from the outset.

References: Goldman & Garvey (2006); University of Newcastle Faculty of Arts and Education (2006); Wright (1992) pp 166–167.


TAFE initiative to increase the number of Aboriginal teachers

TAFE NSW introduced a recruitment and training program for indigenous teachers.

Reference: Pattison (1987), p 10.

Some funded positions at universities for indigenous students

The Commonwealth Government Aboriginal participation scheme funded extra places for Indigenous students in higher education.

This was recognition of low participation rates for Indigenous students and inequity of access.

References: Ellis (2001) p 59; Davis-Hurst (1996) p 133.

Patricia Davis-Hurst from Purfleet (north coast NSW) a graduate of Aboriginal Health and Community Development at Cumberland College of Health Science (Sydney) commented in 1987:

‘Going to College was a real test, imagine being 53 years old with limited education, (there were quite a few older Kooris who went through with me) and having to sit through all the difficult sessions… I think over a period of time the white educators were learning from us and the role of teaching was reversed many times. Many teachers told me they enjoyed the whole experience of working with Kooris, and it is a good thing when we can learn from each other’.

Davis-Hurst (1996) p 133.

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Jumbunna Aboriginal Education Centre opens at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Aboriginal students at UTS such as Frances Peters-Little and Ken Canning argued for an Aboriginal centre at UTS.

Jumbunna provides tutorial help, support, teaching in Aboriginal programs and curriculum development for the university.

References: De Bruce (1993); Plater etal, (1994) p 205.

First Aboriginal Principal in higher education

TAFE NSW employed the first known Aboriginal Principal in an Australian tertiary education institution.

Reference: Pattison (1987) p 10.

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Aboriginal Studies in schools made compulsory

The Aboriginal Education Policy was made mandatory for all NSW schools.

However, if few Aboriginal students were enrolled teachers often regarded it as ‘irrelevant’ and it was not taught.

Reference: Parbury (1999) p 78.

Joyce Woodberry, a foundational NSW AECG member, commented on Aboriginal Studies in schools:

‘It’s not just for Aboriginal kids, it’s important for all kids.’

Woodberry (2003) p 158.

Aboriginal Studies resources distributed to schools

Survival: a History of Aboriginal People in NSW was published.

This accessible text was delivered to all public schools in class sets and widely used in teaching Aboriginal Studies courses.

Reference: Parbury (1988).

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Survival Day

A commemoration of 200 years of colonisation and 200 years of Indigenous peoples’ survival was held.

A Survival Day concert and march was held in Redfern.

Aboriginal and Islander Dance Theatre formation

NAISDA expanded as an organisation and developed two major streams – the Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre and the academic program/college.

Graduates have performed with Bangarra Dance Theatre and other international touring companies, while others have worked in film, television, modeling, opera and the public service.

References: Horton (1994) p 755; Plater et al (1994) p 211.

Kamilaroi teaching fellow appointed at the University of NSW

Eualeyai/Kamilaroi historian Paul Berendt was appointed teaching fellow at UNSW and asked to introduce Aboriginal content and perspectives to courses.

He established the Aboriginal Research and Resource Centre at UNSW (now called Nura Gili).

Reference: National Indigenous Times, Nov 2, 2006.

Professor Larissa Behrendt (Kamilaroi/Eualeyai) reflected on her experiences studying and teaching law:

‘At the University of NSW, like other universities, there are courses for Aboriginal Studies and Aboriginal issues are being integrated more and more into curriculums. That makes it sound like it is a natural progression, but… behind those step-by-step changes is the hard work, sweat and tears, arguments and frustrations of people working in Aboriginal Education.

‘… I would not have made it through the first year without the support of the Aboriginal student centre… If the atmosphere of a safe place can be generated by Aboriginal student centres on university campuses they provide an important lifeline for Aboriginal students.’

Behrendt (1996) p 7.

Hughes Report into Aboriginal Education

The Aboriginal Education Policy Task Force report (also known as the ‘Hughes Report’) recommended a national policy to address inequities and problems in Indigenous education.

The findings became the basis of NATSIEP (National Aboriginal and TSI Education Policy) later NIEP.

References: DEST (2002) p 8; Parbury (1999) pp 78–79.

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National Aboriginal and TSI Education Policy (NATSIEP) developed

Australian Education Council (Council of State and Federal Ministers for Education) developed a National Aboriginal and TSI Education policy.

The policy aimed to work towards equity in Aboriginal education and contained 21 agreed national goals for Indigenous education.

The policy included making Aboriginal heritage a part of all school curricula for all students to increase cross-cultural understanding.

References: Parbury (1999) p 78; DEST (2002) p 8.

Aboriginal Education Centre at the University of Sydney

The Aboriginal Education Centre was established at the University of Sydney.

The Centre, known since 1992 as the Koori Centre, provides support and resources for Aboriginal students.

References: Mooney & Cleverly (2006) (Koori Centre)

Gnibi College of Indigenous Australians opens at Southern Cross University, Lismore

Gnibi College uses teaching methods based on Indigenous principles and offers innovative approaches to higher education.

The college includes a keeping place, a support centre for students, courses in Indigenous Studies, recognition of Elders’ knowledge and teaching in Elders’ programs, partnership programs with community organisations and government, and research centres.

References: personal communication with Gnibi College staff, April 2008; Southern Cross University (1996)

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Tertiary Education scholarships

AEC scholarships program for Aboriginal students entering tertiary education commenced.

Reference: Berg (2003) p 20.

Respected author a guest speaker at a once-segregated school (Baryulgil, north coast NSW)

Dr Ruby Langford-Ginibi, author of Don’t Take Your Love to Town (1988) visited Baryulgil school to speak with students.

The visit was part of a research trip for her book My Bunjalung People, a history of Coraki/Bonalbo Koori lives in the area in which she grew up.

The book includes some discussion with schoolteachers about language and culture teaching at the school.

Reference: Langford-Ginibi (1994) pp 158–159.

Bunjalung author and educator Dr Ruby Langford-Ginibi told the Baryulgil teachers:

‘They are hungry to know more about us. This country cannot deny its history anymore! It’s been denied for too long. If our history was taught in the schools it would promote a better understanding of Aboriginal people and their culture… we Kooris need to educate ourselves so we are not years behind everybody else.’

Langford-Ginibi (1994) p 163.

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National Inquiry into Racist Violence Report

This report noted that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were subject to racist violence emerging from racist attitudes endemic in the police force and other institutions.

A key recommendation of the report was the criminialisation of racist violence.

Other recommendations included training for schoolteachers in anti-racist and cross-cultural approaches, and school curriculum support for respecting cultural diversity.

An information kit for Indigenous communities informing them of their rights, and guides for media workers were other outcomes.

References: O’Shane (1994); Craven (1999b) p 20.

Deaths in Custody Royal Commission releases education recommendations

The Royal Commission, which commenced in 1987, handed down its final report.

The report discussed Aboriginal people’s experiences of segregated schooling and the continuing legacies and impact of this in relation to their over-representation in prisons.

  • The Commission’s education-based recommendations included:
  • Aboriginal perspectives in curricula and consultation
  • improving teacher education
  • developing bridging pre-school programs
  • increasing Aboriginal input in education
  • providing further training
  • support for NATSIEP strategies and approaches
  • financial assistance to enable students’ participation in education
  • recognition of the importance of Aboriginal Education Workers

These national findings influenced reforms to NSW education policies.

Reference: Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody (1991) Chapter 33.

Pemulwuy Community High School opens in Sydney

This independent Aboriginal school opened in Newtown, Sydney.

It was based on Indigenous principles of education.

Pemulwuy Community High closed in 1993.

References: Heiss & McCormick (2002); Barani timeline


1991 Aboriginal Studies offered as an elective at HSC level

Studies have shown that the senior Aboriginal Studies course being offered is an incentive for Aboriginal students to continue their schooling beyond Year 10.

The Aboriginal Studies course is perceived by Aboriginal students to assist with the development and affirmation of their self-esteem and identity.

References: Wray et al (2005a), p 2; Wray et al (2005b) summary.

Federal Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation formed

Education was recognised by the federal government as a means to promote reconciliation.

Through education, a deeper understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and contemporary cultures could be developed, assisting the process of reconciliation.

Reference: Craven (1999b) pp 19–20.

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The High Court Mabo decision

The High Court Mabo decision dismissed the notion of terra nullius, recognising Murray Islanders’ tenure system.

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WIPC:E (World Indigenous Peoples Conference: Education) conference held at Wollongong (South Coast)

Wollongong hosted the World Indigenous Peoples Conference: Education, bringing together indigenous educators, researchers and students from around the globe.

WIPC:E is a forum for exchanging ideas, strategies and knowledge among diverse indigenous communities.

The first conference was held in Canada in 1987, followed by another in NZ in 1990.

The 2008 conference will be held in December in Melbourne.

Reference: WIPC:E (1993)

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Aboriginal Studies for Years 7–10

The Aboriginal Studies Years 7–10 Syllabus was introduced in NSW schools.

Reference: Parbury (1999) p 78.

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Revised policy for NSW Aboriginal education

‘All students-all staff-all schools’ NSW Aboriginal Education Policy developed.

It focused on improving Aboriginal students’ education as well as educating all students about Aboriginal Australians.

The policy was devised by the AECG and the Department of School Education Aboriginal Unit.

References: Parbury (1999) p 78; Parbury (2005) p 189; NSW AECG Inc & NSW DET(2004)

Lola Ryan who is involved in school and prison visits in Sydney explained the changes in education she has witnessed:

‘Since I’ve been visiting the schools, I’ve seen big changes… In the past the Aboriginal child at school, especially high school, could have a bad time, but since Aboriginal culture has been included as part of the curriculum the schools seem to have changed for the better.’

Ryan (2003) p 21


National Education Policy

The Ministerial Council on Employment Education Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA), a national partnership of Commonwealth, State and Territory governments developed a taskforce on Indigenous education and agreed upon national goals for schooling.

References: NSW AECG Inc and NSW DET (2004) p 9; Parbury (1999) p 79.

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High Court Wik Decision

Recognition that co-existence of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people on pastoral lands did not necessarily extinguish native title.

Aboriginal education training for University of Newcastle teacher education students

An indigenous Higher Education Centre, Wollotuka, was established at University of Newcastle.

Wollotuka offered a compulsory Aboriginal Education Unit for all teacher education students within the Graduate Diploma of Education.

References: University of Newcastle Faculty of Arts and Education. (2006)

Aboriginal Education Unit opened at Miller TAFE (Sydney)

Robyn Williams and Merv Donovan co-ordinated the Miller Aboriginal Education Unit, which was established to promote and support training and education for indigenous students in western Sydney.

Williams was especially supportive of education for Aboriginal women, early childhood education and Aboriginal Studies.

References: Liverpool Champion (1996); Dixon (2004), p 12.


Educating teachers about Aboriginal students and Aboriginal Studies

Teaching the Teachers: Indigenous Australian Studies Project of National Significance manuals for primary pre-service teachers were published.

This project was developed from 1991 onwards, to better equip teachers to teach Indigenous students and Aboriginal Studies in schools.

Subsequent studies have shown that such courses have had a positive impact in schools in increasing respect for ATSI cultures among students and teachers.

References: Craven (1999a); Craven (2005); Wray etal (2005a)

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National Strategy for the Education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (NATSIEP) 1996–2002

Revised NATSIEP agreement made across all levels of government involved in Aboriginal education.

A key agreed aim was to have all children leaving school able to read, write, spell and add.

References: NSW AECG Inc and NSW DET (2004).

NSW Reconciliation Council formed

The NSW Reconciliation Council was formed from the NSW State Reconciliation Committee, chaired by former teacher Linda Burney (Wiradjuri).

The NSW Reconciliation Council supported and promoted reconciliation initiatives involving communities and government.

Reference: NSW Reconciliation Council Inc.(no date)

Bringing Them Home/’Stolen Generations’ report released

HREOC Bringing them Home report released.

This powerful report documented the policies of child removal and their impact on Aboriginal communities, families and individuals who were taken to Cootamundra, Kinchela and other training organisations.

Aboriginal people’s experiences of cultural dislocation, health problems, trauma, racism and ongoing damage are evident in their testimony.

The report recommended that the history of child removal policies and the ongoing effects be included in school curricula.

Reference: HREOC (1997)

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Sorry Day recognised in NSW schools

Sorry Day activities commemorated in schools.

Sorry Day was recommended by Bringing Them Home as a public recognition of the harm caused by child removal policies and as a reconciliation/healing process.

References: Parbury (1999) p 86; HREOC (1997)


1998 HSC Aboriginal Studies revised

The Aboriginal Studies syllabus was revised to develop student knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal people’s experiences both historical and contemporary.

Concepts of shared histories were also a central focus of the new Aboriginal Studies syllabus, which was revised along with other curricula across NSW at this time.

Reference: Wray etal (2005b), p 1.

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First NSW Croc Festival held at Moree (Northern NSW)

Annual Croc Festivals bring Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal school students in remote areas together to perform and learn about health, sport and career options.

References: Parbury (2005) p 193; Global Rock Challenge (no date)

Teaching Aboriginal Studies resource available

Teaching Aboriginal Studies was published.

This significant teaching resource emerged from extensive consultation, discussion and conferences held as part of the ‘Teaching the Teachers’ project.

Reference: Craven (1999a)

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North coast pre-school programs

The AEC’s Jarjum program for pre-schoolers started at Cabbage Tree and Coraki Public (North coast NSW)

The program developed children’s oral and literacy skills as preparation for school education.

Reference: Berg (2003) p 29.

Reconciliation Events

Broad support for reconciliation was demonstrated in a historic walk across the Harbour Bridge by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, supported by the NSW Reconciliation Council.

Other state and territory capitals also held mass events.

Reference: NSWRC (no date)

National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy Training Strategy (NIELNS)

NIELNS is a Commonwealth initiative to improve Indigenous students’ participation and learning in reading, writing and numeracy skills.

Reference: DET (2000)

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AEC secondary scholarships

Secondary scholarships for Indigenous students in Years 8–9 were introduced by the AEC.

Reference: AEC (2005)

Aboriginal educator elected to NSW parliament

Linda Burney (Wiradjuri) was the first Indigenous person to be elected to the NSW parliament.

Burney had been a teacher and was president of the AECG from 1988–98.

She was extensively involved in Aboriginal education initiatives, such as developing the NSW Aboriginal Education Policy.

Reference: Kovacic & Lemon (2005) Linda Burney


Review of Aboriginal Education

An extensive examination of problems and strengths in education was conducted by DET and AECG.

It involved field trips around the state to meet with more than 4000 teachers, students, staff and community members.

The report recommendations included:

  • strengthening policy, planning and implementation
  • supporting quality teaching and learning
  • strengthening the identities of Aboriginal students
  • engaging Aboriginal students in learning – especially through greater community involvement
  • applying Aboriginal cultural knowledge
  • collaborating in partnerships
  • building community capacity in challenging racism
  • developing Aboriginal leadership and accountability

Reference: DET & AECG (2004)

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Maths and literacy programs developed by Aboriginal Education Unit, DET

Several maths and literacy development programs designed to suit community cultural contexts and to develop student abilities were developed.

Reference: DET (2004)

Aboriginal Language Programs: sharing experiences

Schools such as Broulee, Vincentia (south coast NSW), Lightning Ridge Central, Forbes North, St Joseph’s Walgett (northern NSW) and Parkes High (south-western NSW) have developed Aboriginal language programs.

They shared the lessons they had learnt through video, photos and other material online, to encourage and assist other teachers and communities to develop their own programs.

Reference: BOS (2004)

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Aboriginal Languages syllabus for NSW schools & a Language Resource Centre opens

Aboriginal Languages Resource Centre was established.

NSW Aboriginal Languages syllabus from Kindergarten to Year10 introduced by the Board of Studies NSW and the NSW Department of Education.

Language revival and teaching are important ways of keeping culture, identity and expression alive.

The syllabus focuses on students gaining language skills, studying languages as systems and understanding the relationship between land, language, culture and identity.

The NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs supported the development of language programs in jails and detention centres.

A disproportionate number of Aboriginal people spend time in prison, making it a key area for education programs.

References: DAA (2004); Poetsch (2003) FATSIL

Uncle Stan Grant Snr, a founder of the Wiradjuri Language Development Centre stated:

‘This will increase children’s self-esteem and sense of identity and help them understand who they are and where they come from. Their language is their country. Language belongs to the land, it is who you are.’

Reference: Cited in Poetsch (2003)

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Expansion of Indigenous Language Programs

46 language programs were operating in NSW schools in 10 languages: Bundjalung, Dharawal/Dhurga, Dharug, Gamilaraay/ Yuwaalaraay/Yuwaalayaay, Gumbaynggirr, Ngiyampaa/ Ngemba, Dunghutti–Thungutti, Wadi-wadi, Wangkumarra and Wiradjuri.

Reference: Aboriginal Languages Research and Resources Centre (NSW) (2006)

Aboriginal Education Training Strategy

This response to the 2003 review was designed to improve Aboriginal education to a level compatible with other students.

Reference: DET (2006)

Developing and valuing staff in Aboriginal education

NSW DET Aboriginal Human Resources Development plan devised, which included strategies to retain staff, mentor future staff, provide development opportunities and educate all staff about Aboriginal cultures.

Reference: DET (2006)

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Aboriginal education achievement awards

The First NSW Schools Nanga Mai Awards were held.

The awards recognise achievements in Aboriginal education in New South Wales – for students, staff, community members, schools and other education employees.

Reference: DET(2007)

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