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Supporting Koorie Students in the West

Ensuring schools are culturally safe environments.

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On 23 June 2022, a community forum was held at the Footscray Community Arts Centre with the West Metro Aboriginal community.

The forum highlighted issues across Victoria’s service systems, particularly around:

  • cultural safety and cultural strengthening
  • transitioning into and out of custody, and
  • in family services, child protection and out of home care.

Working with the West Metro Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee (WMRAJAC), departments made a shared commitment to twelve actions in a Joint Secretaries’ Statement. This statement was published in late August 2022.

One of the issues highlighted at the forum was that Aboriginal children are still experiencing culturally unsafe teaching and bullying due to racism in our schools (action 11).

We are responding to these concerns by:

  • delivering workshops to school principals across the state with the Indigenous organisation ‘Leading with Strength’. This will support principals to create more inclusive schools.
  • partnering with the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (VAEAI) to adapt the Speaking Out Against Racism (SOAR) program for implementation in 2023. SOAR will include specific professional learning to support teachers and students to identify and respond to racism.

Under the Marrung governance structure and in partnership with VAEAI, we will work with the community to ensure schools are culturally safe environments. This will ensure diverse and unique identities and experiences of Aboriginal children and young people are respected and valued.

We will also ensure that processes for complaints and concerns are clear, and that students and families are supported to provide feedback to ensure the wellbeing of their children. This will complement broader work to implement the new child safe standards, which all Victorian schools (government and non-government) will be reviewed against for compliance.

The department will report back to the community within 6 months via the WMRAJAC or an alternative avenue identified by the community.

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