Project lead: University of Newcastle

Project funding:   $48,019   Round 3   2013Cover of Wollotuka Cultural Standards PDF

This project aimed to encourage senior high school students to become teachers. The project targeted 80 Year 11 students from a number of schools and was conducted by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff in University of Newcastle’s Wollotuka Institute. The project was informed by the Wollotuka Institute’s Cultural Standards and provides a culturally safe environment for potential teachers who have become culturally disconnected.

The project’s emphasis was on identity in accordance with advice from Elders, expert knowledge holders and community members that such a program is the missing link between teacher education programs and becoming a teacher.

The program aimed to link participating students to the university, professional bodies, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, education agencies, Elders and current students to provide an holistic viewpoint.

The project manager delivered workshops in the schools and produced a booklet with relevant information for the students to take into Year 12. The booklet became the major resource for connection, to pass on knowledge and maintain consistency of the project outcomes. Connections were made with relevant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations such as the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) and Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) to ensure long term engagement.

The project was able to achieve the following through school visits and enrolling students into the Community of Excellence where they continue to have ongoing support if required:

  • goal setting and time management based on the Cultural Standards which are components of the IBelieve workshops offered in the School 2 University (S2U) pathways program;
  • partnerships based on connecting to culture through the relationship with Wollotuka and the Cultural Standards and an ongoing relationship with the Community of Excellence (NCIE) which provides positive role models and support through a safe secure online environment;
  • engagement with the local and regional AECGs so that students developed an understanding of their roles and the importance of these networks to their future as educators;
  • engagement with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Councils and the Teachers Federation as sources of information related to their local communities and country; and
  • linking with Wollotuka Nguraki (Elders in Residence) to ensure a community cultural connection is maintained. Most students were very comfortable seeking guidance from the Nguraki to whom they have ongoing access.

The program was able to work consistently with 48 students from Year 11 and 17 from Year 12 in eight schools who have shown interest in teaching.

Schools all indicated that the material covered both with the framework of the Cultural Standards and goal setting had not been delivered before to students. All indicated that students had gained a lot of information because of the practicality of the program.

Project assets

The Wollotuka Institute Cultural Standards

MATSITI evaluation conclusions

Processes have been actioned to incorporate core parts of the program into Wollotuka’s S2U pathways program. These actions are likely to promote the program’s sustainability.

Significant success had been achieved despite some challenges. It is commendable that the project owners persisted with the students who grew to accept and value assistance from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and organisations.


The success of this project affirms the importance of identity, culture and respect in shaping the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers of the future.

Project contact: Professor John Lester, Acting Dean ATSI Education & Research, The Wollotuka Institute

University of Newcastle Aspire to Inspire project report 2014 »

Presentation to MATSITI OurMobTeach conference 2015 »

University of Newcastle Aspire to Inspire project announcement 2014 »

MATSITI Evaluation Final Report »



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