Children with disability moving states to access education opportunities


As the school year is about to begin across Australia, some students are settling into life in a new state so they can access education opportunities not available to them at home.

Victorian mother Elizabeth Ellis has moved to Brisbane with her 9-year-old son Murray who has speech apraxia.

Ms Ellis said Murray had been communicating using Auslan for several years and multiple specialists said he needed Auslan in the classroom.

She said using Auslan was helping teach Murray to speak and meant he felt included when he was with other people who signed.

She said Murray was unable to access enough Auslan in the classroom at his local school, and because he is not deaf or hard of hearing, was ineligible to enrol at Victorian schools where teaching is done using Auslan.

Ms Ellis said when Murray heard about Toowong State School in Brisbane, which has a bilingual Auslan/English program for deaf and hearing children, he was excited.

The move means the family is separated — Ms Ellis’ husband and their two older children remain in Victoria — but she said it was important for Murray to get the education he needed before he falls too far behind his peers.

“I’m so excited for him. Anytime I think, ‘Oh my God, I can’t do this,’ I just look at him and I just feel so excited for what can come,” she said.

‘Quite common’ for families to move states for education

Tasmanian mother Lisa Denny knows how it feels to make such a decision.

She is also moving to Brisbane with her 11-year-old son Rory, who has a language disorder.

Her husband and his children will stay in Tasmania, as will Rory’s father.

“They’re big decisions to make, but what Brisbane offers Rory in terms of his speech and language support, and also education, it’s a no-brainer,” Dr Denny said.

Lisa Denny said she was “astounded” at the difficulties she had faced in getting education support for her son Rory.(Supplied: Lisa Denny)

Rory will be attending the Glenleighden School, which is run by non-profit organisation Speech and Language Development Australia.

SLDA chief executive Mark Yeowell said it was “quite common” for families to move to Brisbane because of the school.

“We have families who’ve joined us from Canberra recently … and we’ve had people move from other states as well because we are the only school of its sort in Australia, and arguably the Southern Hemisphere,” Mr Yeowell said.

Glenleighden School is specifically for students with language, communication and related disorders. SLDA also runs an outreach program, which supported about 800 Queensland students, and their teachers, at other schools last year.

Mr Yeowell said one in 14 Australian school students had a language disorder, a disability that was often unrecognised.

“It’s a diverse range of need,” he said.

“Most commonly we’re talking about students’ ability to make sense of the language they’re hearing — their receptive language — or their ability to express themselves — their expressive language.

Two young male students are helped in an activity by a female teacher.
The Glenleighden School is specifically for students with language, communication and related disorders.(Supplied: The Glenleighden School)

There are about 120 students at Glenleighden School, but SLDA recently announced plans to increase capacity to about 300. It also hopes to expand its outreach services to other states.

“Demand is huge … we’re also open in the future to opening further schools to replicate what we do here at Glenleighden in other states,” Mr Yeowell said.

Parents ‘blocked and managed’

Dr Denny said advocating for Rory’s rights, and the rights of other children with disability in Tasmania, had been challenging.

“What’s astounded me is how hard it is to try and provide the evidence as to why your child and other children should actually receive the support that they deserve, and most of the systems that are in place find ways to not help you,” she said.

A Tasmanian Government spokeswoman said students’ learning plans were prepared in consultation with students, their parents or carers, teaching and professional support staff.

“The Tasmanian Government is committed to ensuring each Tasmanian student can thrive in an inclusive learning environment, which is why we introduced the new nation-leading needs-based funding model,” she said.

Young students take part in a music lesson with female teacher playing guitar.
Young students take part in a music lesson at Glenleighden School.(Supplied: The Glenleighden School)

Ms Ellis said her experiences with the Victorian Education and Training Department were similar.

“To have the department just go, ‘No, he doesn’t tick a box’, it’s just soul-destroying,” she said.

A department spokeswoman said the Victorian Government was “strongly committed to inclusive education” and was investing almost $1.6 billion in its Disability Inclusion package.

“All schools will benefit from the change, enabling them to better support students who may have previously been ineligible for targeted support — such as those with autism, dyslexia or complex behaviours,” she said.

‘We need national leadership’

Advocacy organisation Children & Young People with a Disability Australia (CYDA) said children across the country with disability faced numerous barriers getting the education they were entitled to.

“Often that puts families in a position where maybe they do feel like their only option is to move, or for children to travel long distances to access a school where they feel that they can get the support that’s needed,” CYDA policy and programs manager Maeve Kennedy said.

Ms Kennedy said CYDA was aware of children and young people and their families being told their local school couldn’t support them, “even though they have the right to go to their local school just like anybody else”.

CYDA wants a 10-year inclusive education plan developed that state and territory governments and the Federal Government would sign up to.

“We need national leadership around inclusive education,” Ms Kennedy said.

“At the moment, that’s just not happening.”

Thank you for reading this news release on National and Tasmanian News and updates published as “Children with disability moving states to access education opportunities”. This story is presented by My Local Pages Australia as part of our local and national news services.

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Education bus tours: Alice slow in grasping opportunity


By JULIUS DENNIS

Educational tour operators say that there are not enough places to stay the night in Alice Springs to meet the “huge influx” of school groups around the June-July and September school holidays.

And tour operators are “slipping through the cracks” of the NT Government’s $16.2m tourism voucher scheme, says Danial Rochford, the CEO of Tourism Central Australia. 

Richard ‘Reg’ Ramsden, owner of Remote Tours which operates out of The Alice, says: “The main problem is the two caravan parks that shut down and were turned into housing estates.”

Mr Ramsden is referring to the Red Centre Resort and the Heavitree Gap caravan parks. 

Previously, these two parks could accommodate at least 10 coaches per night and were open to squeezing a few more in where they could. 

“Nobody’s thought about, ‘we’ve taken away twenty bus bays and we’ve never put anything back,’” says Mr Ramsden.

The lack of spots to stay during the holiday periods is worsened by the fact that many of the parks in and around Alice are “usually too busy with self-drivers or family groups. They don’t have a bus bay or that type of set up”.

This leaves the MacDonnell Range Caravan Park, which can fit seven coaches a night, and a few lesser suited parks around town to bear the brunt of the rushes.

When there is nowhere to spend the night in town, tours often head to Ross River or Glen Helen Gorge, taking their business away from Alice Springs. 

Geoff Vickers, CEO of Bayside Coaches, a company which usually brings around 40 tours of 40 to 50 visitors, most of whom are students, through Alice annually also laments the closure of the two parks. 

“Mac Range is a great facility, but at times is just smashed and overrun trying to do the right thing and fit in all the groups,” says Mr Vickers. 

Mr Ramsden says that it is affecting his business’s ability to take on more tours after a quiet 2020.

“It’s affecting my business. I can take on groups who don’t want to go to Alice Springs, but they all want to come to Alice Springs.”

Tourism Central Australia has circled educational tourism as something of a saviour for the industry, as well as a central building block for the industry into the future. For that to happen, Mr Ramsden says infrastructure needs to be put in place.

“We can’t wait until the eleventh hour for things to happen. We need to make sure that we can cater for these school groups that want to come and utilise the museums and stuff.

“Maybe the bus tours from down south died down for a while but they are gonna pick up big time if we are allowed to bring people into the Territory.”

Mr Vickers agrees, especially in light of private schools and universities being unable to travel overseas for the foreseeable future.

“In theory, this [Central Australia] could be a great alternative.”

Mr Rochford says TCA has been “advocating for the past few months with government on this issue.

“At the end of the day there are sites around Alice Springs that could be repurposed to support this market, and if there are avenues to do that then TCA would warmly welcome that.

“In the next 10 years, we want to own educational tourism in Australia.

“We want to see the backbone of our tourism industry being educational tourism.”

Also at the forefront of the CTA agenda is finding a way to support tour operators who have not seen any flow-on effects of the government’s tourism voucher scheme which offers up to $200 off trips at least 400 kilometres from your home. 

“The tourism vouchers have not been at all beneficial for our tour operators for the simple reason that most Territorians are using their own vehicles.

“We have said to government since day one that this is the case,” says Mr Rochford.

Mr Ramsden says: “They were never designed to help tour bus companies.”

Mr Ramsden, with the help of his friend Ray Rowe, submitted an additional plan that would help educational tour operators, to local industry players prior to the 2020 Territory election.

The plan, which was estimated to cost roughly $1.47m, was for travel  “vouchers [to be]  issued to every Grade 6 (or Grade 7, 8, 9) student in Alice Springs for an all-inclusive, fully supervised three-day tour to the Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park.

The vouchers — similar to back to school and sports vouchers already in use in the Territory — were costed at $360 and would have been “no burden on parents, either financial, in time, or organisational.

“It inspires and promotes wonder in our young, future citizens, and promotes harmony and understanding in the people and attractions of the region in which they live.”

For remote and regional students trips to Alice Springs could visit the School of the Air, RFDS, The Reptile Centre, Earth Sanctuary, Araluen Arts Centre, Megafauna Central and Art Galleries – a magical experience for these kids to experience what opportunities are available if they continue their education.

The plan also points out that both the itinerary and infrastructure are already in place, in Alice Springs, and could be replicated for other regions around the Territory. 

The proposed plan, however pragmatic, has received little recognition.

PHOTOS: Facebook, School of the Air, a must-see in an educational tour of Alice Springs.

 

Last updated 21 January 2021, 3.22pm.

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Do teacher shortages make education a good career option?


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Earlier this week, the NSW Teachers Federation revealed that schools in regional NSW are scrambling to find staff, with some principals now turning to social media to fill positions.

One principal took to Twitter to invite “anyone who wants to have a crack at teaching science and is an enthusiastic and competent teacher” to apply.

The federal government has reduced the fees for teaching degrees by about a half in a bid to attract more students into the field.

But do the shortages and cheaper fees make this a career worth considering?

While many teachers find the profession has a noble purpose in helping shape and improve children’s lives, the path to a permanent job and future career progression can be less clear.

Studies have found teachers are drowning in paper work and face stunted opportunities for career development and progression.

For new graduates like Ms Price, the early career opportunity to work in a rural or remote area can unexpectedly turn into an enjoyable lifestyle choice.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would move to a rural area. I always thought I’d be living in Sydney or overseas,” she said.

“Moving to Wagga Wagga to teach here [at Holy Trinity Primary School in Ashmont] was the best decision I ever made, seeing the difference I can make in so many children’s lives.”

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Origin Energy said the program aims to help schools in low socio-economic communities.

“High achieving teacher graduates are almost twice as likely to be employed in affluent state or independent schools rather than disadvantaged schools that need them most,” Sean Barrett, head of the Origin Energy Foundation said.

Professor Claire Wyatt-Smith, director of the Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education at the Australian Catholic University, said there was a lack of adequate workforce planning data collected in Australia to help identify and properly plan ahead for future teacher shortages, including those currently being experienced in maths and science.

“What we need is a systematic approach to looking at who is coming in, who are the candidates attracted to teaching, what are the areas of shortage we can project and what is our response … rather than just saying put your hand up and get the ATAR,” she said.

“We need dependable data to inform workforce planning and identify projections of oversupply and shortages, especially with population changes.

“Most countries have workforce planning for teaching. Australia has ‘this is what you need to get into teaching’ and then we wait for shortfalls and supply issues.”

Professor Wyatt-Smith said the reasons for teacher shortages were complex and included working conditions, the status of the profession and its failure to retain many teachers beyond their first five years.

“Some of the teaching profession actually discourage the best and the brightest from going into teaching,” she said. “In the Republic of Ireland, teachers are highly regarded. In Australia you have seen overt criticism of teaching as a career of choice.”

The type and severity of teacher shortages varies across different parts of the state and around the country.

“The picture of shortages is a complex tapestry of geography, discipline area and phases of schooling,” she said.

“It is time for Australia to get smart about workforce planning, workforce studies in teacher education.”

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos describes teaching as “one of the noblest of all professions”.

“That said we have some serious challenges ahead of us as a result of system failures that have exposed the system to some risk. There is no greater risk than a looming teacher shortage as a result of those system failures,” he said.

“We are now seeing a system where teachers are seriously overworked, underpaid and undervalued.”

A spokeswoman for the NSW Department of Education said teacher supply is always fluctuating and would “continue to be a challenge in an education system as large as NSW’s”.

“Everything from sudden changes to school enrolment, professional development, illness, the economy and graduate availability play into the staffing needs of schools,” she said.

“Over the next ten years we will be implementing a staffing supply strategy that will help mitigate these factors.”

The department said it has a range of initiatives to to fill teacher shortages including through its teach.NSW.edu.au website, social media, scholarships and sponsored training.

The Teach.MathsNOW scholarship covers $50,000 in course fees and provides a $5000 one-off training allowance, part-time employment as a para professional during the final three semesters of study, a $5000 study completion grant and a permanent teaching position as a maths teacher.

The department employs more than 74,000 teachers in NSW public schools, with 1250 permanent permanent positions currently vacant.

The Australian government said it provides $28.7 million to address shortages of high-quality school leaders and specialist teachers working at disadvantaged schools.

The federal Department of Education said understanding and addressing the issues that affect teacher supply and demand was essential to retaining teachers and school leaders.

“At the national level, the government is committed to the development and implementation of the Australian Teacher Workforce Data (ATWD) collection,” a spokeswoman said.

The data would track teacher education and the experience of teachers in the workforce to provide a better understanding of supply issues. The department said it expects the data initiative would be implemented by the end of this year.

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$44 million to extend dementia training, education and support – 16 News


The Australian Government will extend grant agreements for programs providing support, training and education for services and individuals caring for people living with dementia.

An extra $44 million will be provided to Dementia Training Australia and Dementia Support Australia to extend the following national programs from July 2021 to June 2022:

  • Dementia Training Program (DTP)
  • Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS)
  • Severe Behaviour Response Teams (SBRT)
  • Needs Based Assessment (NBA), which is a component of the Specialist Dementia Care Program.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said the programs improved care for people living with dementia.

“The programs deliver support and advice – including clinical support, assessments, recommendations for care interventions, mentoring and capacity building – to family and informal carers, primary and acute care staff and aged care service providers,” Minister Colbeck said.

“They also provide accredited education, upskilling and professional development in dementia care for health and care workers, GPs, nurses and allied health professionals.”

Funding for these programs is available beyond the life of the extended grant agreements.

The final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will inform how the programs will be delivered beyond 30 June 2022.

This extension follows other recent investments by the Australian Government with an additional $11.3 million provided for the DBMAS and SBRT programs in the 2020-21 Budget which built on an additional $10 million invested in DBMAS, SBRT and DTP in 2019-20.

Dementia is one of Australia’s biggest health challenges. It is estimated that there are between 400,000 and 459,000 Australians living with the disease today, and that number grows each year.

“These programs have delivered great outcomes and significant clinical improvements in recent years,” Minister Colbeck said.

“They have improved the quality of care delivered by thousands of health professionals and care workers to people living with dementia. Dementia Support Australia alone has delivered services to nearly 80 per cent of aged care homes across Australia since 2016.”

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London head calls for students to repeat year instead of trying to ‘patch up’ education


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London headteacher today called for all schoolchildren to repeat the year instead of trying to “patch up” their education.

Alun Ebenezer, head of Fulham Boys School, admitted that keeping every year group back for a year would be “strewn with problems” but said: “Instead of patching things up, we could use the year to consolidate what’s been covered, plug gaps that have grown (maybe over years), have more time to learn content that needs to be taught and send pupils to the next stage (secondary school, GCSE, A-level, university, world of work) with solid foundations in place.”

His comments came as fellow heads called for clarity about what will replace GCSE and A-level exams as they warned that rumours are causing students’ stress levels to rocket.  

Ofqual is to publish its proposals for how teenagers will be assessed this week. According to reports, the consultation will include plans for pupils to sit tests or “mini exams”.

It is believed that the consultation will include plans for pupils to sit these tests in schools, and they will be marked by teachers. If schools do not reopen as planned these will have to be taken at home. There would also be internal assessments set by teachers in some subjects, and the chance for pupils to submit portfolios of work completed in the past two years.

But school leaders today voiced their frustration at the lack of official information about the plans, saying that levels of anxiety and uncertainty among exam candidates and their families is extremely high.

Vicky Bingham, head of South Hampstead High School, said: “Young people and their teachers have been plunged into another period of uncertainty. They need clarity and a sense of purpose. The way in which, from the start of the pandemic, the Government has briefed school leaders on critical developments via leaks to the media is adding to our frustration. Such leaks create further confusion. We are being lied to – there was no proper contingency plan for cancelling exams – and treated with contempt.”

Bethany Dawson, head of Sutton High School said: “It is totally unfair that a cancellation of exams was announced without any further information. This has greatly increased the stress levels amongst pupils in Year 11 and 13 and they are being further confused by the various reports and rumours of different plans.  

“I hope that Ofqual will engage with schools in a meaningful way over the coming weeks to consult clearly on the way forward, so that our pupils are very quickly reassured and informed about how their grades will be decided this year.”

Emma Pattison, head of Croydon High School said: “The situation with examinations for summer 2021 is leaving pupils and parents confused and worried. I am sure I am not alone in feeling incandescent at the position pupils in Year 11 and 13 have been left in. This is the most important year in their academic careers so far and the lack of clarity and certainty at this stage is unacceptable.  

“Before Christmas, the department for education and Ofqual wanted to offer examinations come hell or high water and that was appreciated and laudable. However, now, the seeming lack of a back-up plan in case that became impossible is a dereliction of duty.”

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Pursuing a Path of Lifelong Learning Through Informal Continuing Education 


The cornerstone of a successful and fulfilling career is a commitment to lifelong learning, both personally and professionally. As it was once said by the incredibly wise Dr. Seuss, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.” 

Many health coaches and exercise professionals associate learning with the formal education required to achieve and maintain their primary certifications. While accumulating the specified number of continuing education credits is an essential part of professional development, it is only one of the many ways to nourish a long and satisfying career. Enhancing and expanding your knowledge and skillset should not be limited to the certifications, specialty certifications, courses and conferences where you earn “credits.” Learning can happen whenever and wherever you open your mind to the abundance of opportunities around you.  

What Is Informal Continuing Education? 

Informal continuing education is any learning that occurs outside of a structured and conventional environment. It is often self-directed and consists of the things you do on a regular basis to evolve in not only your career but also your personal life. It might be the steps you take to explore an area of interest, the activities you participate in when searching for motivation or how you fill your cup in order to give to others. These valuable learning moments can be planned for in small daily doses or occur through experiential learning. By making curiosity and exploration a way of life, you will begin to cultivate a habit of lifelong learning.  
 

Informal Continuing Education as a Way of Life 

How you want to learn, what you wish to study and the type of learning you choose to engage in are all individual decisions. Regardless of what and how you want to learn, the opportunities and resources to support lifelong learning are endless. Here are a few ways to incorporate informal continuing education into your daily life:  

  • Read: Read on a regular basis to gain a deeper understanding of the topics that interest you most. Choose books or publications from within the fitness industry, as well as from outside the industry. Research to develop more knowledge about concepts with which you are familiar and move outside your comfort zone by delving into subjects with which you are unfamiliar. Industry magazines or ongoing publications such as ACE Certified or the ACE Insights Blog, in addition to self-improvement books on topics such as leadership, communication, emotional intelligence, behavior change and stress management are a great place to start.  
  • Absorb: Finding the time to read everything you’d like to can be difficult, if not impossible, which is why it can be valuable to add listening and watching to your to-do list. Podcasts, webinars, and instructional videos can add another dimension to your learning. Webinars and instructional videos layer on visual and auditory information that may help you absorb the information better. And, you can multi-task – listening or watching while you workout! Check out the many free live webinars from ACE or explore TED Talks. And, for podcasts, try Fitness Business Podcast, IDEA Listen and Learn, Ted Radio Hour or How I Built This
  • Experience: It’s important you continue to be a student and consumer of health and wellness opportunities once you become a professional. Be sure you continue taking advantage of all the industry has to offer. Participating in new fitness modalities, such as group fitness classes (in-person and virtual) you have not tried before, circuit training or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions, or outdoor experiences like hiking, mountain biking or adult recreation clubs is a great way to expand your horizons and meet new people in your community. In addition, exploring fitness apps or shadowing—or even hiring—another health coach or exercise professional to add variety to your routine and learn new techniques can help expand your knowledge and develop your skills through experiential learning. 

Connect to the Community  

Finally, consider becoming a part of a community where you can tap into the power of learning through social interactions. Connecting with like-minded professionals provides you with a network of resources and recommendations for things to read, absorb, and experience. ACE supports Pros through several Facebook pages and groups. Consider joining us at our ACE Fitness PageACE Group Fit Facebook Group or the ACE Health Coach Network. And be sure to take advantage of more local opportunities to meet people in your community. You never know who may be your next mentor or newest client. 
 

Informal continuing education is not something you “have to” do, it is something you choose to do. It’s a choice and commitment to the pursuit of ongoing learning with a positive attitude and growth mindset.     

ACE Group Fitness Instructors




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A passion for social justice, education unites 2021’s state and territory Senior Australians of the Year


They come from diverse backgrounds but all have one thing in common — 2021’s state and territory Senior Australians of the Year are passionate about education and social justice.

All are dedicated to teaching others.

And they all have something they want you to think about.

‘Our elders are … our encyclopedia’

The Northern Territory’s Senior Australian of 2021 Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann AM has been recognised for her work as an Aboriginal activist, educator and artist.

In 1975, she became the NT’s first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher.

She went on to become a principal in her community of Nauiyu, 143 kilometres south-west of Darwin.

Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann AM is an Aboriginal activist, educator and artist.(ABC News: Eleni Roussos)

“Training our local people to be educators in our communities is important, because they know best,” she said.

“They know the families and the children.

“We can do the western education and we can also teach our way of educating our kids in a cultural sense, and our languages, dances, ceremonies, you name it.

“It makes us a better person in being able to do that.”

Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann, 69, is also a renowned writer and public speaker.

She has served on the National Indigenous Council and founded the Miriam Rose Foundation to drive reconciliation at a grassroots level.

It’s the third time Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann has been nominated for an Australian of the Year award, but she was still nervous at the announcement.

“I was saying, ‘Please God, not me’. And then my name was announced, I nearly fell off the chair in shock,” she said.

Laying out the welcome mat

The year that Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann became a teacher, Bich Cam Nguyen’s family arrived in Australia.

Ms Nguyen had an MA in economics from Cambridge University. Her husband was a senior diplomat — and they still struggled.

“I was at a loss with no friends or community network. First of all, it’s difficult to get a job,” she said.

“It took us more than five years to feel really settled.”

Woman in blue and white blouse standing in front of a building adorned in Vietnamese writing.
Bich Cam Nguyen has been recognised for her work with the Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association.(Supplied: Australian of the Year awards)

Ms Nguyen, who lives in Springvale, 22km south-west of Melbourne, helped to found the Vietnamese Friendly Society to enable fellow refugees to find their feet.

“For people who are not fluent in English, who don’t know about western ways, and manners and services, it would be very difficult.

“That is why I wanted to start the organisation to help people.”

Ms Nguyen started work a week after arriving in Australia. Now 80 years old, she hasn’t stopped.

She has been named Victoria’s Senior Australian of the Year for her work as founder, chief executive, and honorary secretary of the Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association.

The organisation has helped new Victorians from all backgrounds since 1983.

“That way they feel that they are part of the community and are ready and able to contribute,” she said.

‘It’s time to get this business sorted’

ACT Senior Australian of the Year Patricia Anderson AO always wanted to go to university.

“It was the policy of the day not to teach my mother to read or write,” she said.

“I grew up in a household where English was not my parents’ first language.

“I could see firsthand the pain that my mother experienced because she was denied that opportunity.

“So that has pushed me in a certain direction.

“I just … finished school and got a job and got on with it.”

It wasn’t until years later that Ms Anderson would go to university as a mature-age student.

An Indigenous woman sits thinking, with her hand on her chin.
Patricia Anderson AO is a writer and advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples.(Supplied)

Ms Anderson, an Alyawarre woman living in Hackett, 4km north-west of Canberra, has been nominated for her work as a writer and advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples.

And she has one request for all Australians: to read and understand the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

“The process for us started way back in the 1800s, and even before that,” she said.

Ms Anderson grew up in Parap Camp in Darwin and learned “an acute sense of right and wrong”.

“That was instilled in us by our parents, but also the experience that we had as a family,” she said.

This ethos and the close-knit community had a strong bearing on her.

“We had one school bus that would pick up every kid in town, and take them to school,” she said.

“And then the Catholic school was built. And so we had two buses, taking the kids to school.

“That’s how small the town was.

“That has been such a big influence on me and has got me to where I am today.”

Championing Aboriginal culture

West Australian Senior Australian of the Year Richard Walley OAM is most widely known as the man who reinvigorated the practice of the modern-day Welcome to Country in the 1970s.

And this year he has been nominated for being a champion of Aboriginal culture.

“My issue is very simple. Let’s call up on humanity and our common decency, and what we believe as a collective, because I firmly believe Australia is a very decent place full of decent people,” Dr Walley said.

“The most important issue I want to address now is let’s have a conversation of where we are, and where we’re going and how we can get there together.

“It should be ‘we as a people’ have this conversation and look at the truth of what the conversation is all about.”

Mid-shot portrait of man in white shirt and tie sitting relaxed smiling at camera with tree behind.
Dr Richard Walley OAM is Senior Australian of the Year 2021 for Western Australia.(Supplied: Australian of the Year awards)

Mr Walley, a Wadjuk and Noongar man, is also a musician, performer and artist, and he works with people and organisations on reconciliation through cultural awareness.

He draws on his elders to guide him.

“When I was a young fellow, it wasn’t encouraged to speak the language, practice the traditions, or to be involved with anything to do with the Aboriginal culture,” he said.

“So as Noongars we had to be sort of invisible in the cultural field, but quite visible in the western sense.

“And I found that there was quite a number of fantastic role models that were around me … [who] were very proud to be who they were and where they were from.

Badge of honour

Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year Brian Williams has been recognised for his work as a Scout leader and mentor.

“There are a lot of skills that Scouting imparts to people that society has really forgotten about these days,” he said.

“I think Scouting gives people life skills.”

Man in suit smiling holding trophy standing in front of an old building with green leafy trees in background.
Brian Williams has been recognised for his work as a Scout leader and mentor.(Supplied: Luke Bowden/Australian of the Year awards)

Mr Williams said while Scouting had much competition these days with people’s busy lifestyles and school sports, its ethos was still relevant.

“The thing Scouting has to offer that a lot of these [other pastimes] don’t is the variety of the activities that young people can get involved with,” he said.

“If you’re interested in sailing or sport or something like that, then great. That’s what you really want to channel your energies in.

“But within Scouting, you can do all of those things and more.”

Mr Williams, 73, has given more than 50 years to Scouts.

His membership of his local Blackmans Bay Scout Group, 13km south of Hobart, has seen it become one of the largest and most successful in Tasmania.

“Young people of today need leadership,” he said.

“They need people to help them to progress through their life towards getting things like the Queen’s Scout Award.

“We need people with skills to impart to young people.

‘My journey is not over’

Getting kids to school and to stay in school is what drives NSW Senior Australian of 2021 and Wiradjuri elder Isabel Reid from Wagga Wagga.

“Everyone can do something. If they set their mind to it they’ve only got to look at what skills they’ve got,” she said.

“You don’t have to go to universities, you don’t have to go to the top. But I always say aim at the top.

Ms Reid, 88, is one of the oldest survivors of the Stolen Generations.

Protesters walk down a road as they hold Aboriginal flags.
Wiradjuri elder Isabel Reid at the centre of a Black Lives Matter protest in Wagga Wagga in 2020.(ABC Riverina: Verity Gorman)

She and her siblings Betty and Jack were taken on the way home from school, unbeknownst to their parents.

Isabel and Betty were sent to the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home, and became domestic servants with their wages paid to the NSW Government.

She has served on many boards and fought many battles to make sure it never happens to anyone again.

“My journey is not over. I’ve got a lot of … things that I have to do. I don’t have to do it, but I want to do it.

“Because the simple reason is you need a voice out there in the community.”

A cause close to her heart

It’s out of love for her people that Queensland Senior Australian of 2021 Aunty McRose Elu is tackling global warming.

Ms Elu, from Saibai Island off the south coast of Papua New Guinea, was nominated for being an advocate for Torres Strait communities on climate change.

“It was very close to my heart because I come from low-lying islands in the Torres Strait.”

A woman, wearing glasses, a flower in her hair and a floral shirt, smiles at the camera.
Aunty McRose Elu is Queensland’s Senior Australian of the Year.(Supplied)

Ms Elu, 75, speaks about the impact of climate change on the Torres Strait to business leaders, politicians and the United Nations.

She advocates for renewable energy and sustainable methods of production.

Ms Elu also shares the traditional practices of her people at local, state and federal levels.

She was instrumental in negotiations to legally recognise the traditional customary adoption practices of Torres Strait Islander families, which led to the introduction of a landmark bill to the Queensland Parliament.

“My father’s vision was always about reconciliation and working with people and to tell people about us, our culture’s traditions, and I have to say … gladly that I have done this.

“I’m not worthy of this. There are so many people that I serve, and so many people out there that have a lot of talent and a lot of energy; a lot of expectations, and expertise.”

Fighting for the forgotten

South Australian Senior Australian of 2021 Richard Bruggemann has made it his business to be on the side of those forgotten by society.

Professor Bruggemann, 76, has been recognised for his work as a disability advocate, fighting to make a difference in the lives of those living with an intellectual disability.

A man with a white beard and bald head wearing a suit and holding an award
Professor Richard Bruggemann is South Australia’s Senior Australian Of The Year.(Supplied: Salty Dingo)

In 2020, the SA Government put him on the special taskforce to investigate the death of cerebral palsy sufferer Ann Marie Smith.

He was also appointed to assess temporary orders to protect people living with a cognitive or mental impairment from the spread of COVID-19.

“My view is that when everyone in our community does better, our community does better,” he said.

“We continue to find opportunities where people with intellectual disability can contribute.

“They’re involved in an array of things that probably many of us wouldn’t understand.”

The national Australian of the Year awards will be announced on January 25.



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More education needed ahead of vaccine distribution, experts say



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Posted

December 22, 2020 20:54:29

While many are keen to get the jab as soon as they can, there are concerns some minority communities will be hesitant if proper information isn’t available. Stephanie Borys reports.


Source: ABC News
|
Duration: 1min 59sec

Topics:

vaccines-and-immunity,

epidemics-and-pandemics,

health-policy,

medical-research,

multiculturalism,

australia,

canberra-2600



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Tudge Shouldn’t Be A Minister, Let Alone Education Minister – 16 News


Australian Greens Education spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has said that Alan Tudge’s appointment as Education Minister is a disturbing development.

Senator Faruqi said:

“Anyone who a federal court judge has found to have acted criminally is not fit to be a minister of the government.

“It’s no surprise that this is the sort of ‘talent’ the Prime Minister wants to elevate in the government’s efforts to defund and privatise education.

“This disturbing appointment shows how little the government values the education system.

“While many educators will be glad to see the back of Dan Tehan, sadly his replacement is no better.

“What we need is a return to free and universal early learning, fully-funded public schools, well-funded and fee-free TAFEs and universities, and serious government commitment to a world-class education system to drive our rebuild after the pandemic,” she said.

 



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How Indigenous-led childcare centres could help close Australia’s education gap


When Wayne Griffiths first went to primary school, it was a terrifying experience.

“I grew up in a little town called Curlewis [in northern NSW], and my first day at school was so traumatic I cried most of the morning and eventually I had to be taken home by my eldest brother,” he recalls.

“That was the case most of the days that week. I didn’t know what school was, I didn’t have access to any early childhood settings, and it was just horrific for me.”

These days Wayne, a Kamilaroi man, runs the Winanga-Li Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, which provides child care and early education to Indigenous and non-Indigenous children up to five years old.

There are centres in his town of Gunnedah as well as Brewarrina and Lightning Ridge in NSW.

Wayne is a passionate advocate for early childhood centres led by Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people.

He says 97 per cent of Winanga-Li staff come from an Aboriginal background, which makes members of the local community feel safe to send their children to attend.

“Kiddies have fantastic access to educators, people that grew up in those communities, that attended schools, they have a total understanding, and some really high-quality formal training in helping to develop those kids in that setting. What a great opportunity it is for them.”

Wayne, and many other experts working in this space, believe that early childhood education, particularly via centres led by First Nations people, is the key to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

While more and more centres like Winanga-Li have been opening up around Australia, significant barriers remain.

The challenge of remote living

Richard Weston is the chair of SNAICC, a national non-government peak body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children and their families.

He says there are around 300 early childhood education and care services targeted at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children around Australia, which include small services like playgroups, mobile services and creches.

When it comes to services like Winanga-Li, which provide long day care and other integrated support services for children and families, the figure is closer to 100 centres.

An early childhood educator teaches her class about seasons and the weather.(Supplied: Wayne Quilliam/SNAICC — National Voice for our Children)

Richard says many more are needed to ensure First Nations children get the best start in life.

“What we know is that the remoter a community is, the more difficult it is to access quality education, particularly in these early years,” he tells ABC RN’s Life Matters.

“So there is a big challenge there for our system in ensuring that our children, and particularly Aboriginal children because more Aboriginal children live remotely, have access to culturally attuned, culturally appropriate services, and that we are able to recruit and train more local people that can work into those services.

“There’s really strong reasons for doing that because Aboriginal people are more likely to access services where their own people are working.”

In a submission to an inquiry by Federal Parliament’s House Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training, looking at Education in Remote and Complex Environments, SNAICC highlighted research that found Indigenous children are 2.5 times more likely than other Australians to be behind in two or more developmental milestones when they start school, partially because they’re less likely to attend early childhood centres.

Community-led solutions

A young Indigenous girl with curly hair and bright eyes smiles widely for the camera.
A community-led organisation is more likely to get Indigenous families through the door, experts say.(Supplied: Sarah Francis/SNAICC — National Voice for our Children)

One of the reasons Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can end up attending less early childhood education is that their parents don’t feel safe sending them to mainstream services.

SNAICC says this can be because of past and ongoing experiences of racism, and this can contribute to their children starting school behind their peers.

Reba Jeffries can attest to the resulting developmental delays.

She is a Wiradjuri woman who was born and raised in Brewarrina, in Northern NSW, and now manages Winanga-Li’s centre there, the Brewarrina Aboriginal Child and Family Centre.

Reba wasn’t comfortable sending her daughter to the local mainstream childcare service. Instead, she wanted to send her to a First Nations-led centre.

Her daughter’s first taste of early childhood education came in September this year, when the Brewarrina centre began providing those services.

“That change has happened in a few months. It’s the benefit of being surrounded by other kids too.”

Emma Beckett manages the Nikinpa Aboriginal Family and Child Care Centre in Toronto, near Newcastle in NSW.

She agrees a community-led organisation is much more likely to get Indigenous families through the door, because parents are more likely to trust the staff.

“With a lot of Aboriginal people, they feel other Aboriginal people understand them and know where they are coming from. So they are more likely to talk about difficulties in their life with their kids, because they think we will understand.”

Emma says her centre applies trauma-based practices when educating the children, and they have higher numbers of staff than many mainstream services.

“We don’t just look at the needs of the child, we are often supporting the family with anything that improves outcomes, such as how to navigate the NDIS, we will help a family navigate the system,” she says.

Cultural connections

First Nations-led early education centres can also provide cultural links for children who live with family members who are not Indigenous, as well as a safe environment for children who have disruptions early on in their lives.

Annette cares fulltime for her two grandchildren, who have both lived with her since they were babies.

Three women stand indoors with two young children. Everyone is smiling.
Annette with her grandchildren Charlotte and Jamain, and Winanga-Li educators.(Supplied: Winanga-Li Early Learning & Care Centre)

The kids come from a First Nations background through their fathers, and this was one of the reasons Annette wanted to send them to the Winanga-Li centre.

“It was important for me that they have a cultural connection to their fathers’ culture through the childcare centre,” she says.

“They come home and say ‘I learned this Aboriginal word’ and I say ‘OK!’. They take it all in.”

‘Families benefit when child care is free’

The Standing Committee’s report, tabled last month, detailed several recommendations specifically aimed at First Nations children and staff in early education.

These included providing up to 30 hours per week of subsidised early education and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Richard says subsidising child care is a good first step, but the pandemic offered a better idea.

“With the impact of COVID-19, our services have reported that some families really benefitted when child care was made free,” he explains.

Richard would like to see any subsidies expanded to also include First Nations children in urban areas, where there are also “significant barriers to access”.

The Standing Committee also called to support the development and training of a First Nations early education workforce.

That recommendation is likely to be welcomed.

Reba says in Brewarrina, her centre faces significant barriers helping its staff to gain their qualifications whilst working.

“The girls, my staff, get two hours to study per week so they can access their assessments and their course work and get as much of their work done as they can at work, and then they can come in after hours and on the weekend,” she says.

“The need for qualifications is a challenge because not everyone has internet access or computers at home.”

Because of this, the centre has provided the staff who are studying with laptops.

Emma agrees more funding is needed across the country, so that more Indigenous-led early education centres can be set up and help to close the gaps in outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“There are plenty of areas that could do with another Aboriginal-controlled early education centre. But it’s a big investment to open these services and, we just don’t have the money.”

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