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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 3 Hansard (20 March) . .

Page.. 706..


inquire further into the report, but now resolved to note, and not inquire further into, the report.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural integrity in schools

Ministerial statement

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Sport and Recreation) (12.15): Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, the Ngunnawal people, and I would also like to acknowledge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have come to call the ACT home. Their positive contribution to all aspects of the local community cannot be overstated. I would also like to specifically acknowledge the contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make to our schools. Whether they be school leaders, teachers, school support staff, students, families or community leaders, they all contribute to the rich culture and diversity of our schools.

Today I rise to talk about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education in ACT public schools. During the last Assembly, I talked about how the community have been telling us about their experiences with education in this city. The importance of schools being student centred is a key theme for these conversations.

Alongside the future of education conversation, the government has given focus to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. The ACT government has recently reviewed funding allocations, policies and resources provided to schools to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education.

The Education Directorate has developed a new approach driven by cultural integrity that is strength based and promotes high expectations and connection with community and culture. It is also well aligned with the distinct cultural rights recognised in the Human Rights Act and supports the government delivering culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that respect their role in protecting, maintaining and nurturing culture, including language and knowledge, kinship ties, spiritual practices and beliefs.

The ACT can pride itself on taking a lead role in putting into practice a strength-based, non-deficit approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. This is what it means to pursue reconciliation in action.

The government is implementing a new direction that requires all ACT public schools to build and strengthen cultural integrity. Cultural integrity describes the environment a school creates to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and to welcome and engage their families and communities. It exists in an environment that values and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, languages and knowledge systems. Every school's story in the community is rich. As such, cultural integrity will look different in each school.


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