Monday, 8 Aug 2011


For immediate release: Monday 8 August 2011

Approaches to improving education for Indigenous students should take a bottom-up approach, building on successful classroom and community programs to inform policy, Australian Council for Educational Research researchers Justin Brown and Gina Milgate will tell delegates to the ACER Research Conference on Monday 8 August 2011.

Brown and Milgate, whose presentation to the conference will focus on successful post-school transitions for Indigenous youth, said that community engagement and input were vital.

“We’re taking a strength-based approach,” Ms Milgate said.

“We’ve put the statistics about Indigenous student underperformance to one side for a while, to listen to what people in the community have to say about what is working,” she said.

Brown and Milgate will present a series of case studies which show that effective programs to smooth the transition from school to work or further study for Indigenous students:

  • make student success the responsibility of everyone in educational organisations
  • support student, family and community engagement
  • introduce work concepts, job information and work experience prior to post-compulsory schooling years
  • have strong partnerships with industry and philanthropic organisations, and
  • embed cultural awareness and understanding.

“It is important to monitor progress and report against targets, to make sure programs are effective, and to inform planning and policy,” Ms Milgate said.

“But it’s also vital to recognise the additional obligations and needs of Indigenous young people without diminishing the importance of high expectations, engagement and achievement in the learning and working environment,” she said.

She noted that the research has informed some recommendations that have been implemented by the Victorian government.

The ACER Research Conference 2011, on the theme Indigenous Education: Pathways to success, takes place in Darwin from 7 to 9 August.

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