Remote Australia needs remote teachers

Remote Australia needs remote teachers Conference Paper

Australian Teacher Education Association Annual Conference

  • Author(s): Melodie Bat
  • Published: 2013

Abstract: In the current era of nationalisation, accreditation and regulation, the needs of what could be argued are the most disadvantaged communities in the country, appear to have been lost in the rush to create a uniform teacher education system. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in remote Australia are fast becoming the lost children of Australia’s education system, as their specific cultural and linguistic identities are positioned as challenges to overcome rather than an essential component of their identities as children and as learners. Nationally and internationally, there is recognition that the current education system in remote and very remote Australia is failing and that a new paradigm is needed. Analysis of Australia’s national literacy and numeracy achievement data clearly shows that current efforts are not working. Whilst Australia is busy reforming its funding allocations to create what has been proposed will be a more equitable education system, the obvious need for a rethink on the approach to education in this context is seemingly missing. The Remote Education Systems Project, in the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation is engaged in both understanding remote education and in supporting families, communities and organisations to be able to influence and control their education. As part of this work, it is important to be able to consider the changes in workforce and workforce development that may arise as a consequence of this reconceptualization of remote education. There are two key issues that will be addressed in this paper. The first is that of the pathways into teaching for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in remote Australia and the complex and constraining systems currently in place in both VET and Higher Education. In a significant conundrum, the current response initiatives may themselves contribute to the development of an apartheid in the teaching profession. The second is the skills, professional knowledge and personal competence required of the non-local teachers who commit to working in the remote communities and who bring their best intentions, professional skills and personal commitment to a learning situation that is clearly not working and in which they unlikely to succeed. This paper will base these discussions around the education workforce of the Northern Territory, making a call for further discussions and action to support a new teacher education approach for remote Australia.

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Melodie Bat, 2013, Remote Australia needs remote teachers, Conference Paper, viewed 18 August 2022,

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