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Improving the outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students within Catholic Education Tasmania: literature review

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 00:02 authored by Auld, G, O'Mara, J, Clair AndersenClair Andersen, Natalie BrownNatalie Brown, Corcoran, T, Kitty te RieleKitty te Riele, Moss, J, Delphine, T, David HicksDavid Hicks, Chandir, H, Tess CrellinTess Crellin, Emily RudlingEmily Rudling

Under Aboriginal educational jurisdiction, Indigenous children have long been successful in education for forty thousand years or more. It is only in the last 200 years of colonisation that Indigenous failure has occurred (Rigney, 2002, p. 74).

This literature review is being conducted for Catholic Education Tasmania by researchers from Deakin University and the University of Tasmania seeking solutions to the complex and diverse issues that impact upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student success. The literature review has two sections: This first section reviews the theoretical underpinnings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student success at school, and the second section is an annotated bibliography of case studies that illustrate examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student success at school. The annotated bibliography includes case studies of Tasmanian examples and examples from elsewhere.

In recent times the discipline-specific focus on well-being, literacy and numeracy has turned to interdisciplinary pedagogy approaches that seek to make connections to student-learning across the curriculum. These approaches often have a focus on the whole person, and position learning in the context of caring for the individual student and the responsibilities that the school community have to them. Learning of specific skills may come with programs and approaches that do not always foreground this care and responsibility (Doecke & Kostogriz, 2013).

This approach to responsibility and care is clearly embedded in the CET Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy (2018), setting the agenda for Tasmanian Catholic Schools. The commitment to ‘honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s unique cultural and spiritual connections and the rich contribution they bring to our schools’, frames Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members as critical resources of cultural knowledge. In affirming the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to maintain languages and cultures and acknowledging their deep cultural associations with the land and water, CET calls for schools:

to ensure that [they] simultaneously enable a right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to enact the curriculum through languages and cultures while providing non-Indigenous students with a deeper and more complete education. The deep cultural associations with land and water position Country as an integral part of the curriculum. These deep cultural associations are found in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priorities of the Australian Curriculum about Country, people and culture, which forms the basis of a culturally safe school.

The care of and responsibility for students is the foundation of the CET ethos, and upholds the commitment to make schools culturally safe. Cultural safety is more than “a checklist approach” to inclusion and diversity. It empowers and enables individuals to contribute to their own achievement of positive outcomes and ‘requires that all human beings receive services that take into account all that makes them unique’ (Bin-Sallik, 2003, p. 21). Cultural safety is integral to student well-being, which itself is connected to improvements in student outcome.


Publication title

Catholic Education Tasmania. ISBN 978-0-7300-0255-0




DVC - Education

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Equity and access to education; Policies and development; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education engagement and attendance outcomes

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