Indigenous Education Strategy Newsletter - Issue 10

08 July 2016

  1.  Tony's Message
  2.  Indigenous Education Strategy
  3.  Melbourne Indigenous Transition School Celebrates Official Opening
  4.  Gunbalanya Community Engagement Charter
  5.  ANZAC Ride – Ntaria
  6. Students anchor new training opportunities
  7. Clontarf Billy Kart Derby a hit with students
  8. Expressions of Interest Sought for Boarding School Steering Committee

Tony's Message

It’s been a busy time for the IERI team!

Chief Executive Ken Davies, Transition Support Unit team member Dennis Dunn and I attended the official opening of the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS) at the beginning of May. The event, detailed below, gave us the opportunity to celebrate an exciting milestone for a partner organisation of ours and to showcase the achievements of the Territory students involved in MITS.

On 17 May 2016, I attended the Full Council of the Northern Land Council (NLC) meeting held in Ngukurr to provide a report on the implementation of the Indigenous Education Strategy. The meeting which brings together over 80 members from the NLC’s seven regions provided the opportunity to hear about the priorities of each community and to answer any questions that the Council had on the strategy.

For the students of North East Arnhem Land, the construction of the residential facility at Nhulunbuy remains on track and is expected to welcome students for the 2017 school year. This edition of the Newsletter includes a call for expressions of interest in the steering committee to be established for the initial period of the residential facility’s operation.

While in Nhulunbuy recently, I had a chance to visit both the residential site and the site of the upcoming Garma Festival. We’re delighted to have a presence at the festival again and to have such a strong involvement from students and staff from the region. I look forward to updating you more on the event in coming editions.

If you would like further information about anything contained in this newsletter please contact at

Tony Considine, General Manager
Indigenous Education Review Implementation

Indigenous Education Strategy 

After a year developing and trialling key projects under A Share in the Future – Indigenous Education Strategy many of the projects are ready to enter the co-designing phase and commence implementation in regions throughout the Territory. 

To ensure this is a smooth transition, regional workshops have taken place. These briefings not only provided in-depth information on all projects but allow Regional Directors, Principals and key staff from the regions to take the lead in the trials in the implementation of key strategies such as Literacy and Numeracy Essentials, Employment Pathways and Social and Emotional Learning. This methodology ensures the essential advice of teachers shapes those key initiatives.

The following update provides a snapshot of current implementation progress:


Key Facts

Families as First Teachers (FAFT)

FaFT is currently established in 23 sites and has approximately 800 children attending regularly and will be on track to be operating in 28 sites by December 2016.

Preschool Curriculum

The new preschool curriculum has been completed and is currently being trialed in 37 sites with 1,740 children enrolled.

Mandated Literacy

The curriculum, assessment and pedagogical frameworks of the literacy and numeracy programs have been established and are ready to commence a co-design phase in ten schools across the Territory in Semester 2, 2016.

Direct Instruction

19 government schools are delivering Direct Instruction - Literacy. 178 school principals, teachers and assistant teachers have participated in the centralised training and over 1500 students are engaged in the programs. Direct Instruction - Maths is expected to commence in five schools in Term 4, 2016.


Approximately 20,000 students from 148 schools participated in PAT-M and PAT-R testing.  The next round of PAT testing will occur in Semester 2, 2016. Foundations in Early Literacy Assessment has been trialled in nine schools with 380 students from Transition to Year 3.

Build Boarding

Construction of the Nhulunbuy residential facility is well underway with block work and window frames in place, and work on roof trusses to commence shortly. The facility is on track for completion November 2016.

Transition Support Unit (TSU)

TSU currently assists 320 students with case management - 205 existing boarding students and 115 new supported enrolments. TSU officers are currently working with 534 Years 6 and 7 students from very schools and their families in to plan their secondary pathways.

Employment Pathways

The Employment Pathways Program is being implemented in four schools expanding to ten schools in Term 4, 2016.

Macqlit (literacy and JEMM Maths) resource packages are fully developed and the curriculum framework has been widely distributed. Teachers have undertaken professional development in both Macqlit and JEMM. 

Align SEAM

SEAM impacts on students from 52 schools across the Northern Territory, 38 government and 14 non-government & further sites proposed for 2016. 52 schools in 22 communities in the Northern Territory implement the Student Enrolment and Attendance Measure (SEAM).

21 Attendance Officers employed.

Girls’ Engagement

Programs operating in 13 sites, engaging 702 girls.

Stars Foundation in seven sites.

Role Models and Leaders Australia in six sites.

Program is fully operational. New Tennant Creek Stars program has commenced. Nightcliff Middle School proposed for participation in 2017.

Well Being and Behaviour Management

20 schools have begun implementation of the new social and emotional learning and schoolwide positive behavior approach A total of 80 schools have expressed interest in implementing this program in 2016/17. Trialing and testing of the curriculum adaptation is underway and learning partnerships in schools, working with students to incorporate student perspectives into the approach have begun. Students from 12 schools across all regions have already been engaged.

Assistant Teachers

Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education have been contracted to provide this
$4 million dollar training trajectory for Assistant Teachers.  Indigenous Workforce Learning Coordinators have been recruited in Arnhem, Palmerston and Rural Regions, Katherine and Barkly. A new Performance and Development Framework for Assistant Teachers has been developed as part of this initiative. The Indigenous Workforce Learning Coordinator for Alice Springs will commence after stand down and introduce the Framework to that region.

Remote  Teacher Housing

Four new dwellings and 27 refurbishments due for completion 2016.

Melbourne Indigenous Transition School Celebrates Official Opening 

In early May, students, families, supporters and dignitaries from across Australia came together to celebrate the official opening of the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS) in Richmond, Victoria.
Now in its second school term of operation, MITS is an independent residential school that provides schooling and transition support to Indigenous students from remote communities across Australia. Of the 22 students attending MITS, 18 students are from eight communities across the Territory.

After MITS was officially opened by Josh Frydenberg MP, representing the Prime Minister, Senator Nova Peris OAM, and Wurundjuri Elder Aunty Joy Murphy Wandon, attendees had the opportunity to hear from students, including Jordan from Pirlangimpi, on how they had found their first few months at the new school.

“We are so incredibly proud of our students here at MITS”, MITS Executive Director Edward Tutor said. “In the short time we’ve been in operation, we’ve seen the students grow stronger academically and their confidence soar. They are really growing as young people and emerging as leaders in their communities”.

The success of the school and the students is largely attributed to the strong focus that the school and its community has on the social and emotional wellbeing of the young people. In addition to the staff at MITS, the students receive support from the Korin Gamadji Institute (an initiative of the Richmond Football Club) and the staff at the Transition Support Unit.

Applications for students to commence with MITS in 2017 are open from now until 1 July 2016. Students and families are encouraged to contact Brenton Toy or Andrew Lloyd from the Transition Support Unit if they have any questions.

Gunbalanya Community Engagement Charter

Gunbalanya School is the first in the Territory to complete their Indigenous Education Strategy Family and Community Engagement Charter.

The process kicked off earlier this year with the Department of Education providing Regional Directors and Principals with a resource kit that helps start conversations about how schools and their communities would like to interact.

“The school board met with community representatives where they discussed their wants, needs and vision of the school community. Gunbalanya School’s Co-Principal Esther Djayhgurrnga facilitated the sessions that were held in language and ensured that the desires of all representatives were accurately translated into English”. 

The outcome of the consultation was a shared vision that prioritised attendance, engagement and partnerships between the relevant stakeholders.

“The process of moving our goals and aspirations into the Family and Community Engagement Charter framework was quite seamless” Gunbalanya Community School Co-Principal Sue Trimble said.
At the heart of their Family and Community Engagement Charter, and all interactions that the school community has, is the motto ‘karrimurrngrayekworren’, a traditional word which proudly proclaims that by working together they are making everyone strong.

ANZAC Ride – Ntaria

The Employment Pathways Program implemented in urban, regional and approved very remote schools, has been designed to engage Indigenous senior secondary students in study that will provide them with the pre-requisites required for work in their local communities. 

As part of their learning and assessment for Vocational Education and Training (VET) pathways in Rural Operations, Agriculture and Tourism, a group of 30 Indigenous students from Ntaria School recently embarked on an eight-day journey by horseback to Alice Springs.

Beginning in 2015 as an incentive to bolster student attendance and engagement, the 127 km ‘Aranda Tribe Ride for Pride’ from Hermannsburg to the Red Centre now presents an opportunity for a variety of educational outcomes for students. Whilst on the ride, students are taught how to care for horses, how to care for each other, literacy and numeracy skills particularly in transcribing their experiences, as well as multimedia skills with some students filming their rides as part of their course requirements.
Ntaria School Principal Cath Greene says, “the Aranda Tribe Ride for Pride engages students in authentic learning that goes beyond the classroom.”

“I’m seeing students increasingly treat each other with increased respect and self-worth. It is hard to describe the massive level of pride felt by the whole community.”

With attendance and engagement at Ntaria School improving, the Ride has also allowed Indigenous young people to learn about, pay respects to and celebrate the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers in the Light Horse Infantry during World War I.
Lead trainer and manager of the project Chris Barr said, “Ultimately, the program has increased school attendance and learning outcomes.”

“The program gives the students a sense of pride and self-confidence particularly when they see their efforts recognised by their families and the broader community.”

Students anchor new training opportunities 

Students at Casuarina Senior College, Nhulunbuy High School and Milingimbi School have taken their learning to the water, with boats as their newest classroom. 

The boats are a part of the Territory’s new maritime training offered to students undertaking a vocational education and training program and align with the Indigenous Education Strategy’s focus on providing young people with employment pathways.
The Department of Education and the Australian Maritime and Fisheries Academy have worked together over a two-year period to design the Maritime Training Program. It includes professional learning opportunities for school leaders and trainers, so that they have the specific skills they need to best support the learning of students who participate in maritime training. 

This program is the first of its kind in the Northern Territory and promotes effective and innovative partnerships with the shared vision of a sustainable and relevant program for our students. 

Additional training such as swimming and small motors training will be included in the overall program. As an entry point, students work toward gaining a recreational boating certificate on location. If they wish to progress further, facilities exist at Casuarina Senior College and Nhulunbuy High School where they can obtain a Certificate II in Maritime.

Clontarf Billy Kart Derby a hit with students

Indigenous student engagement is a key element of the Indigenous Education Strategy. Students from the Clontarf academies at Tennant Creek High School, Centralian Middle School and Centralian Senior College delighted in the chance to put their Billy Karts to the test at the recent Clontarf Billy Kart Derby held at Yirara College.

Operating in a number of locations across the territory and interstate, the Clontarf Foundation runs academies that seek to improve the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Indigenous men. Through engagement activities delivered by supportive staff in a welcoming environment, Clontarf provides quality student engagement that supports young adults in schools and encourages them to develop new skills and abilities.
In preparation for the Billy Kart Derby, students used their Clontarf contact time to form teams and decide on designs for their Billy Karts. During both the design and construction phase students were encouraged to deliberate what the Kart would need and seek help from staff when necessary.

On the day of the Derby, students were required to present their vehicles to the judges and special guests. All team members that spoke took great pride in their creations and all the hard work that was required to create them.
The Yirara Storm Riders were victorious, taking out the gold medal position and crowned the 2016 Clontarf Billy Kart Champions.

Expressions of Interest Sought for Boarding School Steering Committee

The Department of Education is calling for expressions of interest from key stakeholders and individuals with expertise relevant to the establishment of the Nhulunbuy residential facility to form a steering group. The group will provide advice to the School Council on all matters relevant to running a boarding facility for Indigenous students from remote communities across North East Arnhem Land.

Meeting fortnightly, from July 2016 for a period of up to eight months, the steering group aims to engage individuals with knowledge and expertise in the areas of:

  • student wellbeing;
  • cultural knowledge and protocols relevant to communities in North East Arnhem Land;
  • Education with a specific focus on after school hours tuition and support;
  • boarding school facility operations; and
  • business and administration standards.

All interested parties are welcome to submit an Expression of Interest and young Yolngu people and Parents are strongly encouraged to apply.
To register your interest in the Nhulunbuy Boarding School steering group please submit approximately 200 words detailing your skills, experience and motivation for being involved to Ebony Allen ( by close of business Friday 22 July 2016.

If you would like any further information, please contact Sabina Smith, Principal NHS on 8987 0825 or

Last updated: 08 July 2016

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