Growing Educational Opportunities in Remote Indigenous Communities

Growing our own

How you can help

WE ARE SEEKING $2 MILLION BY 2021 TO TRAIN AND SUPPORT 20 INDIGENOUS TEACHERS TO WORK ACROSS 3 REMOTE COMMUNITIES IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

It costs $100,000 for one student-teacher to obtain a degree. It costs more than $100,000 to relocate a non-Indigenous teacher and pay them to work in a remote community for 1 year.

Statistically, we know that non-Indigenous teachers stay for an average of 2 years, at which point the cycle resumes.

Training Indigenous teachers makes sense not only economically and culturally but, most importantly, for educational outcomes and student engagement.

We have communities ready and waiting for graduates of the Growing Our Own program.

Download the full fact sheet

The gap

"I look behind me and I don’t see anyone walking there."

Principal, Murrupurtiyanuwu Catholic Primary School, Tiwi Islands


Education is the single greatest tool for improving Indigenous health and wellbeing. Yet in remote Australian communities, Indigenous students’ literacy and school retention rates remain alarmingly low. We know that Indigenous educational outcomes can only be improved through teaching methods that respect cultural and language barriers, and that the lack of Indigenous role models is a major barrier to student success.

Growing our Own

There has been significant national research over the past decade outlining the need for more Indigenous schoolteachers. This is recognised as a necessary requirement for both improving Indigenous educational outcomes and maintaining the cohesiveness of the community. As remote Australian communities are complex, multi-cultural environments operating across a mix of languages, the lack of Indigenous teachers directly impacts on the quality of teaching and learning taking place in these contexts.

Growing our Own

Bridging the Gap

Our vision is to significantly increase the number of Indigenous Australians qualified to work as teachers within remote communities.

Growing our Own

Growing Our Own is a long-term project launched by Charles Darwin University (CDU) in partnership with Catholic Education NT. It aims to strengthen CDU’s capacity to deliver effective programs addressing regional Indigenous needs through genuine partnerships. It is a unique model incorporating elements from a long history of initial teacher education initiatives in remote Australian communities.

The vision of Growing Our Own is two-pronged: to empower Indigenous educators to combine culturally relevant ways of being, knowing and doing with contemporary school curricula, and to empower non-Indigenous teachers and mentors to understand culturally relevant Indigenous ways of being, knowing and doing.

These objectives are intended to strengthen opportunities for Indigenous students’ continued learning

Growing our Own

Growing our Own

The strategy

Growing Our Own aims to break the cycle of visiting teacher turnover in remote communities by providing an alternative resource: qualified local Indigenous teachers. Training local Indigenous teachers to work within their own communities is paramount to improving educational outcomes among remote Indigenous students.

Growing our Own

The advantage of training local Indigenous teachers is that they already live within the community and have long-standing relationships with the students. They are therefore in a unique position to maintain the transmission of Indigenous knowledge and language and, importantly, they understand the needs of Indigenous students as English as Additional Language/Dialect (EAL/D) learners.

Significantly, Growing Our Own provides formal training to individuals who are already employed in local schools as assistant teachers or teacher aides. This group understands the requirements of teaching and has directly participated in leading classes, but they may face barriers to formal education opportunities. Supporting Indigenous student-teachers within their own communities is of vital importance given that pursuing formal education elsewhere is disruptive to family and community dynamics.

The Growing Our Own program provides formal training to prospective Indigenous teachers within their own communities. It involves a two-way framework of learning, according to which the Indigenous student-teacher is mentored by a non-Indigenous teacher at their school and, in turn, helps them to develop their cultural awareness of Indigenous ways of being, knowing and doing.

The Growing Our Own program is working. It has recently been recognised as a significant case study by Senator Birmingham, launching the ‘Innovative Research Universities’ profile. In 2014, a major review of Indigenous education in the NT, known as the Wilson Report, explicitly evaluated the program. It recommended that it be expanded and applied across all remote Department of Education schools. Ultimately, this is our aim – to build and expand upon the program’s proven success.

Growing our Own

Growing our Own

How you can help

WE ARE SEEKING $2 MILLION BY 2021 TO TRAIN AND SUPPORT 20 INDIGENOUS TEACHERS TO WORK ACROSS 3 REMOTE COMMUNITIES IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

It costs $100,000 for one student-teacher to obtain a degree. It costs more than $100,000 to relocate a non-Indigenous teacher and pay them to work in a remote community for 1 year.

Statistically, we know that non-Indigenous teachers stay for an average of 2 years, at which point the cycle resumes.

Training Indigenous teachers makes sense not only economically and culturally but, most importantly, for educational outcomes and student engagement.

We have communities ready and waiting for graduates of the Growing Our Own program.

Download the full fact sheet