Project lead: Yumi Education Inc
Project funding: $50,000 Round 1 2012
The YUMI as leaders project emerged from the recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers are underrepresented in leadership positions in Torres Strait and Northern Peninsular Area (NPA) schools. While 64% of the multi campus Tagai State College and NPA teaching workforce is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, less than 22% of educational leaders are Indigenous.
Education support and ancillary staff are 87% and 84% respectively Torres Strait Islanders. Historically, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders are retained substantially longer in their leadership positions within the region than non-Indigenous leaders.
The higher retention rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, and their unique cultural experience, knowledge and skills make their engagement as leaders fundamental to education success in this region.
Barriers to the attainment of leadership positions and roles by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers include:
- lack of availability of relief staff;
- low enrolment and retention in post graduate programs;
- high cost of travel for teachers and mentors; and
- lack of recognition by employers of the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.
A professional mentor engaged under the project undertook over 18 months:
- mapping of aspiring leaders;
- mapping of leadership roles and career paths;
- individualised leadership plans for three teachers and three leaders; and
- development of a summer school program focusing on leadership skills, educational management and the selection process as formal training or a post graduate qualification.
Participants’ spouses were involved as they are key to supporting the teachers and leaders in achieving their goals. Project owners also recognised the unique challenges which are often faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders including family commitments, health, women as leaders in a patriarchal society even though teaching is a female dominated profession in the Torres Strait and NPA, language and remote service.
MATSITI evaluation conclusions
While the program’s approach is sound in both its structure and its accommodation of the cultural needs of its participants, the program would be strengthened by a plan to ensure its sustainability.
This project has potential for continued success, given the project owners’ analysis of the current situation, recognition of barriers to accessing leadership positions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers in this unique location, and a commitment to change.
Project contact: Katie Denzen, YUMI Education Support Service, Torres Strait Islanders’ Regional Education Council