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Sweeping review urges creation of Aboriginal Unit and Education Team to support WA students

Giovanni Torre -

A review of public education in Western Australia has recommended a dedicated Aboriginal Unit be established as a matter of urgency to support Indigenous students in the state.

Commissioned by the State School Teachers' Union of WA, the review was headed by former WA Premier Dr Carmen Lawrence and took more than 12 months, received over 100 submissions from both individuals and peak bodies, held community forums in 11 regional towns and 17 metro locations, and conducted two statewide online sessions.

The review made 46 recommendations, including that a joint steering committee should be immediately established to oversee the implementation of the recommendations, with a focus on the most urgent changes.

Several of the report's recommendations related to First Nations students, including establishing a wellfunded Aboriginal Unit to support schools to implement the Aboriginal Standards Framework.

The review panel also recommended an elite Aboriginal Education Team be established including experienced and highly trained educators to staff schools with a significant number of Aboriginal students.

Dr Lawrence said the panel received extensive feedback that both students and teachers were not getting the support they needed.

"We repeatedly heard that Aboriginal students' learning was compromised by high staff turnover and a lack of targeted resources," she said.

The report also recommended the WA Department of Education report annually on the implementation and outcomes for Aboriginal students in line with the Aboriginal Cultural Standards Framework, including achievement and attendance levels of Aboriginal students by city, regional, remote and very remote indicators.

SSTUWA president Matt Jarman thanked the panel for the report and called for immediate action to start implementing some of the recommendations.

"We fully support the recommendations for increased dedicated support for Aboriginal students," he said.

"It is clearly important for their education that they receive culturally appropriate support, particularly in regional and remote schools.

"Our union is committed to working with the government and the Department of Education to fix the public education system in this state."

Chaired by Dr Lawrence, the review panel included Dr Scott Fitzgerald, Colin Pettit, Pam Pollard and Dr Robyn White.

The report was officially handed over to Education Minister Tony Buti at an event at the Perth Convention Centre on Monday, 6 November.

National Indigenous Times has contacted Minister Buti for comment.

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