Aboriginal Education

Aboriginal Education officer – Mr Paul Mackay 

St Mary’s Catholic College would like to respectfully acknowledge the Custodians and First Peoples of Australia, the Awabakal nation, on whose sacred land the school stands. We pay respects to their ancestors, elders and emerging leaders. We acknowledge the sacrifices made by many Aboriginal men, women and children in times gone by. We recognise that this land is, was and always will be Awabakal country.

St Mary’s Catholic College is committed to promoting Aboriginal Education, with both an academic and cultural focus. Personalised and ongoing support is facilitated by our full-time Aboriginal Education teacher, to encourage our students to maximise their potential for all educational, sporting and cultural endeavours encountered here at St Mary’s. 

Academic focus

  • Aboriginal Studies offered as an elective subject for Stage 5 and Stage 6 students.
  • Aboriginal perspectives embedded across all key learning areas to enable effective connection with learning experiences. For example, Aboriginal Astronomy and First Contacts in History.
  • Culturally appropriate curriculum and teaching and assessment programs.
  • Mentoring and tutoring of Aboriginal students, including support with completing assessment tasks, in-class support and one-on-one support.
  • Monitoring of student progress to help them achieve educational goals.
  • Liaising with university Aboriginal units to maximise opportunities for further study. For example, using programs at the University of Newcastle’s Wollotuka Institute.
  • Liaising with our careers adviser, as well as other internal and external agencies, to maximise opportunities for further educational options, employment opportunities and trade-related experiences.
  • Monitoring wellbeing and school attendance, with options for support where required.
  • Providing a safe and supportive learning environment that enhances the cultural identity of Aboriginal students.
  • Encouraging and supporting staff to develop knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the educational and cultural needs of Aboriginal students, such as opportunities to attend Aboriginal conferences and professional development days.

Cultural focus

  • Acknowledgement of Country/Welcome to Country at all school assemblies and events.
  • Ensuring there is an Aboriginal element to prayers and liturgies, for example, Smoking Ceremony, and Aboriginal Lord’s Prayer.
  • Local sporting opportunities promoting skills development and reconciliation awareness.
  • Providing opportunities for Aboriginal students to engage in special cultural events, encouraging connection to culture and support for Aboriginality and their story.
  • Providing Aboriginal cultural experiences for all students, for example, Aboriginal land management practices, and bush tucker and medicine talks.
  • Excursions to sacred areas for cultural immersions.
  • Welcoming members of our Aboriginal community into our school to share their stories to deepen our understanding of events of the past, for example, stories of the stolen generation.
  • Commitment to our involvement within the local Aboriginal community through AECG meetings.
  • Aboriginal artwork, totem poles and posters throughout the school.
  • Creating and maintaining a bush tucker garden, combining introduced and native plant and medicine foods such as Warrigal greens, kangaroo grass and midgen berries.