Empowering self-determination

Learning from First Nations people through consultation and collaboration.

Consulting First Nations peoples

The Victorian Skills Authority (VSA) engaged with First Nations peoples in the preparation of this Victorian Skills Plan to understand how best to support First Nations learners to engage in training and employment. Ongoing consultation will foster collaboration and partnership between the VSA and First Nations peoples and communities and build the capability of the skills sector to empower Aboriginal self-determination.

First Nations peoples stressed the importance of a strengths-based approach in developing programs and initiatives, as it acknowledges the resilience and strength of the First Nations peoples, their cultures and communities. Cultural safety, free from prejudice, must be seen as the bedrock of vocational education and training (VET).

They also highlighted that the one-size-fits-all approach in learning lacks cultural awareness and runs counter to inclusion principles. Engagement and exposure to community role models can create the right environment to attract more First Nations peoples into education and training and to increase completion rates.

Of more significance is supporting self-determination. Consultations for this plan reinforced that First Nations communities are best placed to understand the issues and develop effective solutions. It may mean regular VET pathways are chosen but it is critical that VET in Victoria facilitates other approaches determined by communities.

The Victorian Government also has the Yuma Yirramboi Strategy (Invest in Tomorrow)(opens in a new window) which brings together all First Nations employment initiatives to support wealth creation and achieve economic parity. The strategy helps First Nations peoples by creating a supportive environment, opening employment and business opportunities, and supporting delivery of existing government policies and initiatives.

The Victorian TAFE Network is embedding self-determination principles as part of its ongoing priorities. The 2023 TAFE Network Statement of Priorities(opens in a new window) highlights the network’s role in delivering training with cultural safety, empowering Aboriginal self-determination, and being a culturally safe employer for First Nations peoples.

The Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions is encouraging training providers to consider their contribution to empowering First Nations peoples through their programs. The ACFE Board is developing protocols in the design and delivery of pre-accredited training and other adult, community and further education programs for Koorie learners and their communities based on, and developed through, a self-determination approach.

Recommendations

Using self-determination as a guiding principle and ensuring alignment with Victoria’s Treaty process, the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions implements changes in vocational education programs to reflect cultural inclusion and include First Nations knowledge systems, where relevant.

Work with training providers to embed practices that foster a culturally safe learning environment for First Nations learners.

Encourage training providers to increase the diversity of their workforce to enable a strong First Nations peoples voice in decision making.

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