First Nations educators and Children's Ground reps visit Parliament
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First Nations Educators Network and Children’s Ground representatives visit Parliament

by Freya Lucas

March 01, 2024

Elders, senior leaders and representatives from Children’s Ground and Utyerre Apanpe (First Nations Educators Network) visited Parliament House recently to present the M.K. Turner Report – a plan for First Nations-led and designed education reform, hosted by NT MP Marion Scrymgour, the National Indigenous Times (NIT) reports


The M.K. Turner report follows the recently released Productivity Commission review on Closing the Gap which highlighted the need for governments to fundamentally rethink their systems, culture and ways of working, as well as the importance of giving First Nations agency in designing and implementing solutions for their communities.


Co-designed with more than 60 First Nations educators, and supported by local and international evidence, and the United Nations Declaration of Rights for Indigenous People, the report offers six recommendations and outcomes to Australian governments:


– Australian governments commit to the establishment of a new First Nations education system.


– Government recognises and partners with an independent national First Nations governance body to develop and oversee the new First Nations education system.


– Australian governments support the teaching of First Nations languages in the new system, through a new national Language of Instruction policy.


– Australian governments establish a comprehensive national network of First Nations Language and Literacy Centres for every Nation/language group.


– Australian governments develop and support a First Nations education workforce.


– Australian governments establish the M.K. Turner Institute as a national centre for First Nations knowledge, practice, research and evaluation in the new First Nations education system.


In essence, the delegation said, the report offers “a roadmap that will close the gap in educational, employment, health and cultural outcomes,” and which has the potential to “change the status quo and embrace First Nations knowledge, practice and culture.”


“We are committed to successful education outcomes for our children, that protect our cultures and identity while equipping our children for a global world,” Children’s Ground chair and 2023 NAIDOC Male Elder of the Year, William Tilmouth, shared with NIT.


“First Nations people have solutions, and evidence that our solutions lead to positive outcomes for our people. We will continue to grow this evidence. We don’t want to see our kids on the streets. We want to see our kids in education, run by us for us, where they are safe and supported to succeed.” 


“Our children succeed when their learning environment is founded in their identity, their culture, their language and their Country. I invite the Australian Government to support bold reform that is backed by international evidence.”


Elders, he continued, have been campaigning for education reform for generations. 


“We know this is where the answer lies. These old people are passing away. We continue to champion their legacies by asking for change now for the sake of our children and before these old people and their knowledge are gone. Put our education back in our hands.”


The Commonwealth Closing the Gap 2024 Implementation Plan reported that four program outcomes were worsening and not on track, including Outcome 4 – First Nations children thrive in their early years.


“This undeniable evidence base clarifies a response to the worsening or stagnant Closing the Gap program outcomes. In the regions that Children’s Ground operates, First Nations children are consistently falling out of mainstream schooling,” Children’s Ground CEO Jane Vadiveloo said.


“A First Nations designed and led learning system leads to positive outcomes for the individual, their community and beyond.”


This piece has been adapted from its original, which was published by the National Indigenous Times. Read the original story here.

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