At the inaugural National Indigenous Education and Boarding Symposium held in Canberra participants resolved to follow up on what they had learned from three major reports impacting upon providers of education, boarding and welfare for Indigenous students.

Feedback received shows that an encouraging 95% of delegates have already taken their experiences at the Symposium back to their workplaces to discuss the challenges facing Indigenous education and boarding and their own organisation’s role in this.

Kristine Van at AFL Cape York House was enthusiastic stating, ‘I believe it was the best conference of its kind that I have ever been to. Congratulations again to you and all the team. I have been talking it up to everyone as it is time these difficult discussions were had and worked on.’ 

The responses made from boarding school and residential care providers, policy makers and researchers were to insights gleaned from recent reports: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; The power of education: From surviving to thriving Educational opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – HoRSCIA Report and Study Away Review.

Organised by Boarding Australia the Symposium included keynote speakers Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald AM; Genevieve Hassall, Adviser, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Richard Stewart, Manager, Transition Support Service, Queensland Education Department.

‘The Symposium was an opportunity for 90 delegates Australia wide to give input to the major issues facing providers of boarding for Indigenous students and their families,’ said Boarding Australia CEO, Greg Franks.

Themes and priorities were identified as matters for further exploration and action:

  • funding for Indigenous boarding
  • high quality mandatory national boarding standard
  • transition processes
  • boarding workforce development and training
  • student health and wellbeing
  • community engagement incorporating cultural practices
  • cross sector partnerships and communication

Boarding Australia President, Mr Anthony Bennett said, ‘As a consequence of the comments from attendees and the overwhelming commitment of those involved at the Symposium, Boarding Australia will continue to facilitate the holding of national and regional symposiums across the country on the priorities identified by the collective group.’

Planning for Regional Forums is underway and will be held in Brisbane 24 May, Cairns 28 May, Darwin 30 May and Perth 1 June.

Written by Dr Marie Wood, Director Boarding Australia

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