Symposium. Setting a Standard. ‘Yet despite the best intentions of many boarding facilities, …boarding, particularly mainstream boarding, is not meeting the needs of Indigenous students.’ House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs, The power of education: From surviving to thriving Educational opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, December 2017.

Indigenous young people are amongst the most vulnerable in our community. They, often with complex needs, are disproportionately likely to be in care, in contact with police, in poor health or commit suicide. Education is the key to their economic and social participation and better health outcomes.

For those living in regional and remote Australia there are few education options other than to leave their family and country to become boarding students in unfamiliar cities large distances from home. For most, boarding is their only access to secondary education.

As a result, there are close to 6,000 Indigenous students studying a secondary education in around 180 boarding schools and residences spread across the country.

However, there are no standards in boarding to keep these young people safe, to care for their health and well-being, to support their specific learning needs, to communicate with their families or to recognise their cultural needs.

This is despite the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, recommendations by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs, the Study Away Review and calls at the National Indigenous Education and Boarding Symposium from leaders in the field to develop a National Indigenous Cultural Boarding Standard.

We know the risks and challenges of Indigenous student boarding. We know what good practice looks like. We now need to act collectively to create a Standard we should all aspire to.

The 3rd National Indigenous Education & Boarding Symposium, 17-19 March 2020, in Geelong will bring an Indigenous Cultural Boarding Standard into the national focus.

Add your voice to Shaping a Standard. Registrations open now.

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