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Image: Aboriginal photography by Catherine Rendell of the Three Sisters on the Gundungurra Nation
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HSC Aboriginal Studies outreach initiative to enrich student learning

14 June 2022
Innovative learning experience for secondary students, teachers, and undergraduate students
In collaboration with Aboriginal knowledge holders and Bachelor of Education students, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences develops HSC Aboriginal Studies Major Project Consultation program for Year 12 students.

In collaboration with Aboriginal Elders, Aboriginal University Lecturers and Bachelor of Education (Secondary) Aboriginal Studies 4th year students, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences developed HSC Aboriginal Studies Major Project Consultation Pilot Program. The virtual Program was officially launched in February 2022. 

The Program is one of the faculty’s high school outreach initiatives, aiming to provide valuable cultural knowledge sharing for HSC Aboriginal Studies students completing their Major Project and supporting secondary teachers to embed localised cultural knowledge into their teaching programs. Consultation provided an open dialogue of cultural knowledge sharing between the Aboriginal community, the school and the University.   

Inclusion of presenter’s personal experience was directly helpful to the students.
Teacher, Year 12 Aboriginal Studies

The Program was led by Ms Irene Wardle, Aboriginal Researcher Partnerships Manager, Research Centre for Children and Families, and Ms Tracey Cameron, Lecturer and Coordinator of Aboriginal Studies, Sydney School of Education and Social Work, in collaboration with the Faculty’s Strategic Partnerships and Engagement team, and Aboriginal community representatives - Aunty Janelle Scott, an Aboriginal Educator from Gamilaraay Nation; Dave Lardner, an Aboriginal community member and Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) Educator, residing on Darinkjung Country; and Ms Amy Davidson, an Aboriginal lecturer and Wiradjuri woman completing her PhD at the Sydney School of Education and Social Work.  

I liked learning new perspectives and hearing people’s ideas. The presentations were clear, and I enjoyed learning from the presenters.
Year 12 participant
Image: Professor Dennis Foley, teacher Ms Jessy Coulson, and Ms Irene Wardle with the class of Year 12 Aboriginal Studies, taken at the Major Project Exhibition, Cammeraygal High School

Professor Dennis Foley, teacher Ms Jessy Coulson, and Ms Irene Wardle with the class of Year 12 Aboriginal Studies, taken at the Major Project Exhibition, Cammeraygal High School

The Program embedded appropriate ethical research methodologies that lessened the demand on Aboriginal communities from the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Virtual delivery allowed multiple students to share their Major Project questions to deepen cultural understanding and for teachers to gain insightful cultural pedagogy tools for future lesson planning. Cammeraygal High School at Crows Nest, Green Point Christian College on the Central Coast, and Sarah Redfern High School at Minto participated in the Program alongside their teachers.

The Program delivered HSC outcomes; including analysing HSC examination questions; developing the student’s Major Project ideas, ethical research methodologies and appropriate community consultations techniques and a live Q&A with Aboriginal knowledge holders. Students were able to document their ideas and meaningful cultural conversations in their logbooks, in preparation for the HSC major project criteria. The values of the program were to culturally engage Aboriginal Elders through a safe and appropriate consultation process during COVID-19 difficulties. Each student was able to ask direct questions to Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal Educators about their projects. Topic areas included health, housing, criminal justice, agriculture, Aboriginal languages, Aboriginal clothing, Arts, Dance and Aboriginal music. 

HSC Aboriginal Studies provides secondary students with an opportunity to develop ethical and analytical research skills through their Major Project and the content focuses on Aboriginal People’s relationship to the Land, heritage and identity. Over two years of the course, historical inquiry of colonialism, racism and prejudice from pre-contact through to recent events are examined. The Program allows students to link their learning experiences and Major Project ideas through the cultural safety of Aboriginal knowledge holders. The Program is a celebration of the spirit of reconciliation processes.   

The feedback received from the Year 12 students and teachers was overwhelmingly positive. It demonstrated the positive impact of bespoke outreach activity, made possible through the strong collaboration between University of Sydney colleagues and esteemed Aboriginal community members.

HSC Aboriginal Studies Major Project Consultation program is expected to return in early-Term 4, 2022, focusing on supporting schools in remote/rural areas and new teachers assigned to teach this HSC course. Expression of Interest is open to teachers who are likely to be assigned for Year 12 Aboriginal Studies course in 2023. Please sign up for our Expression of Interest form. 

 

Banner Image: Aboriginal photography by Catherine Rendell of the Three Sisters on the Gundungurra Nation

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