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Certificate III in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education

You find you’re a role model for the kids

The course | A participant's view

The course

Victorian Koorie Education Strategy Team Manager, Angela Singh, explains how the course came about.


Angela Singh

Back in the late 1990s, we realised that Koorie Educators ['Aboriginal Education Workers' or 'Aboriginal Education Assistants' in other states] needed some more training to help them do their job. We knew that a lot of Koorie Educators didn't want to be teachers, though.

The University of Ballarat was able to run short courses for Koorie Educators for a couple of years, but they weren't Certificate courses. Still, about 15 Koorie Educators did the course in the first year and about the same number the second year. So we knew the interest was there.

Then we saw an opportunity to pick up the Certificate III in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education, which was already running in other states and territories but never in Victoria. We had some negotiations with the University of Ballarat and we were lucky because they became a dual sector institution [TAFE and higher education] at that time. So with their history of delivering the Koorie Educator training program together with the flexibility of the TAFE system under their belt, they were able to look at delivering the Certificate III.

We started off by calling all the Koorie Educators together for an information session and explaining what the Certificate III was about and how it would help them get positions and increase morale and self esteem. That was over 50 people and between 30 and 40 put their hands up and said they wanted to have a go.

It's been a bit of a journey...

A participant's view

Wayne Harradine is one of the first graduates of the Certificate III course. Here, he talks about the experience.


Wayne Harradine

We had a fantastic lecturer. She was very easy to get along with and she had the right balance between pushing you and letting you work it out yourself. Like teachers I've seen in schools, some of them just have that passion and they really care.

One of the big things I learned was about dealing with conflict. Before, if there was a conflict at school, I wouldn't know how to deal with it, especially when it was to do with the principal or someone like that. But after doing the 'dealing with conflict' module I can go in and state my case without getting angry and just keep my cool. I used to get much too tense and I had to leave the room. But now I just sit down and talk it through and try to solve the problem.

And I'm much more confident now when talking to any principal around the region. I just go in there and deal with it.

We also learned about dealing with parents but I suppose you learn a lot of that on the job, and as a parent myself I know that experience counts for a lot as well. But there are little ideas like it's sometimes better to talk to them outside the school, somewhere neutral, because they mightn't have had good experiences at school themselves.

And sometimes all some parents hear from the school is negative stuff. So it's good if you can ring up and say 'Billy's had a good day at school. He's got work to show you.' That's good for everyone. Everyone needs some positives.

Then there was a module about school structures. You know, until it's explained to you, you don't really know how it fits together, from the principal to the bursar. And the school charter, for instance, I'd heard about it but we had a chance to look at it in detail — what it was, how it came about and what the school priorities were. And how important it all was.

We did a lot about computers as well. I'd been to computer in-services before but when I was up there in Ballarat we were all Koorie Educators and we were all really concentrating. And that was the difference.

Then there was an interesting module where we had to plan literacy lessons over six weeks for two lessons per week and then work back at school with kids who might have been having trouble. So I talked to the teacher and came up with my own lesson plans, using what we had learned at Ballarat. Then I worked with a particular kid and we saw some results. Working one-on-one you really feel you're involved, but you need to know what you're doing and why.

So, learning about lesson plans was another good thing. I'd heard about them but I didn't really know about them until I had to do them myself. It's harder in a way than just sitting in a class with a kid, doing a bit of reading and writing, but it's better when you know what you're trying to achieve and how you're going to get there.

The course definitely helps you to plan and work better with teachers, too. I had a lot of support from the teachers at my school at the time. They'd stop classes so I could talk to the kids about what I'd been doing in my course.

The kids were great, too. Some of them miss you when you're away for the course because I used to go out and play sport with them at the end of the day, and stuff like that. They always ask you how long you're going to be away for and when you're coming back. But when you are back you find you're a role model for the kids and you can tell them what university's all about. They want to know. I tell them that I hadn't been at school for a long time and I wasn't sure I would be able to handle it. But you know, with the support around you, you can do it.


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