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Home > News > Professional Issues > Professional Issues Volume 10 > Gaps in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander excellence action plan identified

Gaps in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander excellence action plan identified

Queensland action plan welcomed but key gaps must be addressed.

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Issue Snapshot:

IEUA-QNT has welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback regarding the Queensland Department of Education and Training’s new report Advancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and training – An action plan for education in Queensland.

Advancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and training is Queensland’s draft action plan intended to drive higher expectations in early childhood education, school education, vocational education and training, and higher education. 

Expanding on plans that work to close the gap between education and training outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Queenslanders, this draft action plan aims for excellence in education and training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.

Given our union’s range of operation throughout Queensland and The Northern Territory, we have a strong interest in issues that affect our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and their communities. 

Our union has commended the Department for adopting a holistic and responsive approach ranging from provision of multilingual early childhood education in integrated (education, health and community) services, through to case management of all senior secondary students and collaboration with providers of vocational education and training in rural and remote locations.

As an organisation with an active Reconciliation Action Plan however, we are compelled to continually reflect on what more might be done to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their communities.

While our union does not oppose any of the Department’s proposed actions, the following three gaps have been identified: 

  1. A lack of substantial cultural awareness training in pre-service teacher education. While many programs include superficial coverage in this area, far more could be done to provide graduating teachers with greater cultural awareness and preparedness to work constructively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their communities; be they metropolitan, regional or remote.
  2. A lack of certainty concerning the fate of the senior secondary subjects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages. It is our understanding that, while syllabus documents for other senior secondary subjects are undergoing redevelopment in preparation for the shift to the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) system in 2019, these subjects - which provide a vital mechanism for increasing cultural awareness among future generations - are yet to undergo review. It is our view that these subjects must not be left behind in the transition to the new system.
  3. A sometimes counter-productive tendency to separate programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and educators. While there is no question that targeted programs are an essential element of any plan to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, we note that page one of the action plan indicates that a goal of the plan is to contribute to the development of an Australian identity. In this sense, we imagine a contemporary ideal where all Australians take pride in the activities and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture and challenge the Department to work toward innovative, rather than merely replicative, initiatives.

As noted in the Reaching learning potential section of the plan, engaging students in learning requires teaching and learning environments that reflect and reinforce positive elements of society and culture. 

For this reason, our union believes that the three gaps identified require resolution and that it is within the remit of the Department of Education and Training to exert influence in relevant areas. 

Our union has lodged a submission with the Department of Education and Training to ensure these gaps are addressed and appropriately resolved. We seek to be actively involved and welcome any further opportunities to contribute to and support work in this area.


Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.