The NCEC acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of Australia as the traditional owners and custodians of the land of our educational communities. We respect their heritage and deep connection to country and are inspired and nurtured by their wisdom, spirituality and experience. We seek to actively work together for justice and reconciliation.
With the Australian Catholic Church, the NCEC endorses the Uluru Statement from the Heart. A large part of this is listening to the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
In 1986, Pope John Paul II proclaimed that the Church of Australia will not fully be the Church that Jesus wants her to be until Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have made their contribution to the life of the Church and that contribution has been joyfully received.
We seek the wisdom of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and educators as we work together to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Network advises on issues of national interest related to the development, implementation and evaluation of strategies, programs and policies impacting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. The group provides a collaborative forum for dissemination of information and knowledge sharing.
We pursue these goals through working towards the Closing the Gap targets and outcomes. As a community of educators, we particularly focus on goals 3 to 7 and 16:
3) Children are engaged in high quality, culturally appropriate early childhood education in their early years
4) Children thrive in their early years
5) Students achieve their full learning potential
6) Students reach their full potential through further education pathways
7) Youth are engaged in employment or education
16) Cultures and languages are strong, supported and flourishing.
While there has been some encouraging progress in educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, more must be done as we seek to achieve our strategic priorities in faith, excellence and access.
Catholic education will continue to advocate to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. This includes support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to access boarding. We seek to support fairer, consistent funding for such services and boarding environments that are culturally safe and supportive of the young people in their care. We advocate for funding to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to access Catholic education and experience excellent educational outcomes.
In achieving these goals, the NCEC has developed a two-year action plan that aligns with the Closing the Gap strategies and Mpwartne declaration. We support the vision of the 2015 National Aboriginal Education Strategy that: All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people achieve their full learning potential, are empowered to shape their own futures, and are supported to embrace their culture and identity as Australia’s First Nations peoples.ii
The action plan focuses on:
- Catholic Identity and Aboriginal Spirituality
- Learning and Teaching
- Parent and Community engagement.
i. John Paul II, 1986, Address of John Paul II to the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in Blatherskite Park, n. 13.
ii. Australian Government, 2015, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy.