Project lead: University of Tasmania

Project funding:   $32,510   Round 3   2014UTAS logo

This project seeks to identify and overcome barriers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Workers (AIEWs) undertaking a teaching degree by obtaining the views of AIEWs through interview. It also aims to identify strategies for encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school students to complete their secondary schooling and undertake further education.

The project involves the Department of Education’s Aboriginal Education Unit, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation for Education and the University’s Riawunna Centre. The interviews are individual and focus groups use Yarning Methodology.

A comprehensive report has been produced about the research and its findings, which are as follow:

Motivations to undertake teaching

  • flexible delivery modes and entry and exit points for programs leading to a qualification eg AIEW certificate;
  • a quota of teaching positions to ensure employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teaching graduates;
  • AIEWs are good role models when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values are embedded in the education system; and
  • financial support eg scholarships.

Barriers to undertaking teaching

  • economic;
  • lack of information about pathways to a teaching qualification;
  • lack of job security getting in the way of planning for the future; and
  • negative perspectives of the education system by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Good practice to foster student engagement

  • positive student-teacher relationships assisted by AEIW support;
  • inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the curriculum;
  • principals showing leadership in the integration of Aboriginal perspectives and respect for culture and identity;
  • communicating pathways to teaching to students as early as possible;
  • awareness of particular support needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students; and
  • role model and mentor support.

Lasting benefits and sustainability of the project post completion include:

  • AIEWs have been connected to University of Tasmania diplomas and degrees as a result of yarns and have become aware of support available;
  • Some AIEWs have attended ‘tunapri teaching’ information sessions at University of Tasmania; and
  • Four AIEWs who participated in individual yarns have enrolled or are planning to enrol in undergraduate degrees at University of Tasmania (Bachelor of Education (2), Bachelor of Social Work (1), Bachelor of Fine Arts (1).

MATSITI Evaluation conclusions

This comprehensive report provides in-depth information in respect of its key focus questions. The report can be used by a range of organisations to assist them to work together more effectively in order to get more AIEWs to become teachers and more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to finish school and go on to further study.

The yarning methodology and the respect shown to participants have connected AIEWs and inspired some AIEWs to undertake further study. The involvement of key players including the Department of Education, and the University’s Faculty of Education and the Riawunna Centre is likely to promote connections which will produce synergies for achieving the aims of MATSITI.


This project’s greatest strength is common to many MATSITI projects – that by undertaking the project, awareness of the need to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers and their role in motivating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students has been heightened.

Project contact: Clair Andersen, Aboriginal Higher Education Advisor, University of Tasmania

Aboriginal education workers in Tasmania becoming teachers project report 2015 »

AEW views on teaching project announcement 2014 »

MATSITI Evaluation Final Report »


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