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Language and culture

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​​​​​​​​​​​Cross curriculum priority

The Australian Curriculum sets consistent national standards to improve learning outcomes for all young Australians.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) acknowledges the gap in learning outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their non-Indigenous peers. It recognises the need for the Australian Curriculum to provide every opportunity possible to ‘close the gap’. Therefore, the Australian Curriculum is working towards addressing 2 distinct needs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are able to see themselves, their identities and their cultures reflected in the curriculum of each of the learning areas, can fully participate in the curriculum and can build their self-esteem.
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priority is designed for all students to engage in reconciliation, respect and recognition of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures.

The department is committed to building the capacity of all educators in Queensland state schools to confidently embed the cross-curriculum priority, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, in teaching and learning. Through this work, all educators will have the ability to provide opportunities for all students to deepen their knowledge of Australia by engaging with the world's oldest continuous living cultures, and develop an understanding that contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are strong, resilient, rich and diverse.

Cultural capability

State Schools—Indigenous Education is committed to building the cultural capability of all employees working in the department. The Crossing Cultures Intelligence initiative has been developed to increase the cultural understanding of employees working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The initiative focuses on Queensland history, government legislation, policies and other significant events that have impacted the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Queensland. The initiative is designed for all Queensland state school staff, ranging from school-based teaching and non-teaching staff through to senior leaders in regional and central offices. It is designed to build the cultural capability of those working with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and communities, through increasing their understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' history and cultures, to better understand Australia's colonial past and to meet the educational outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

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Indigenous English as an additional language or dialect (IEAL/D)

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Queensland state schools speak a creole, a variety of Aboriginal English, or a traditional language as their first or home language. In order to access the curriculum through Standard Australian English, these students need to be explicitly and actively taught Standard Australian English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D). All EAL/D students in Queensland schools should be identified, regularly Bandscaled and supported to learn Standard Australian English in and through the curriculum.

Professional development is available for state school staff through each region's IEAL/D coach, the EAL/D Hub via Oneportal and from the State Schools–Indigenous Education Languages and Cultures team.

Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages

The department supports Aboriginal peoples’ and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ aspirations to teach and learn in, through and about their languages and cultures in Queensland schools.

All state schools are required to teach a language from at least years 5 to 8 aligned to the Australian Curriculum. Principals should consult with parents and local community members in order to choose which language(s) to teach in their school. For many schools across Queensland, the most appropriate language to teach will be the local Aboriginal language or Torres Strait Islander language.

Queensland is home to more than 80 distinct Aboriginal language and Torres Strait Islander languages. Each language belongs to a group of people who are its custodians. Sustainable Aboriginal language and Torres Strait Islander language programs in schools are co-designed and co-delivered with the custodians of the language being taught.

There are many benefits to all students when Australia’s first languages are respected and kept strong. Most importantly, Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages are essential to ensuring the sustainability, vitality and identity of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people.

Learning these languages can enhance Aboriginal students’ and Torres Strait Islander students’ links to culture, family and land, and strengthen their sense of identity and belonging. For all students, learning an Aboriginal language or Torres Strait Islander language can be an active step towards reconciliation and a distinctive means of understanding and describing the Country in which they live.

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Last updated 20 July 2021