Aboriginal background

The Aboriginal background equity loading is a funding allocation to support NSW public schools to meet the additional learning needs of Aboriginal students.

Every NSW public school with enrolments of Aboriginal students receives this funding.

Aboriginal background equity loading funds are provided to schools to ensure the performance of Aboriginal students in NSW public schools matches or betters the broader student population, while maintaining cultural identity. In addition, these funds may be used to ensure that all teachers are culturally competent and schools are culturally responsive. The Aboriginal Education Policy provides direction and guidance on the achievement of these objectives. Schools have an obligation to ensure the Aboriginal background equity loading is used to embed strategies that achieve these objectives.

In 2023, the Aboriginal background equity loading will fund approximately 72,000 students in 2,055 NSW public schools.

Key messages

  • In addition to quality teaching and learning, explicit strategies to engage Aboriginal students should be in place to ensure that literacy, numeracy, Year 12 attainment and attendance outcomes of Aboriginal students improve to match or better those of the broader student population. Offering additional student support through tutoring and/or the creation of Aboriginal learning and engagement centres (PDF 257KB) is encouraged.
  • Lifelong learning pathways are in place for Aboriginal students from preschool/Kindergarten to Year 12 and into work and further study.
  • Resources and professional learning are targeted to promote quality teaching and the inclusion of Aboriginal perspectives and content across all subjects and key learning areas.
  • Participating in the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc. (NSW AECG) Connecting to Country and/or Healthy Culture Healthy Country professional development programs are encouraged.
  • All students need to be educated about Aboriginal cultures and respect for the Custodianship of Country.
  • Employing local Aboriginal people is critical.
  • Parents and caregivers of Aboriginal students, the Aboriginal community and the NSW AECG are engaged in co-decision making.
  • Schools must identify strategies and initiatives that have been implemented to improve outcomes for Aboriginal students in the school’s Strategic Improvement Plan. These must also be reported on in the school’s annual report.
  • By consulting and engaging with local Aboriginal communities, schools are best placed to support teachers with developing and demonstrating their high expectations for all Aboriginal students. Schools should acknowledge and seek advice from local AECGs when considering, designing and implementing Aboriginal programs.
  • Authentic community engagement builds a culture of high expectations and inclusion.
  • The Aboriginal background equity loading is to be used in the calendar year for which it is received.

How is the loading calculated?

The level of funding and rate per student for each school is determined by the number of Aboriginal students and the percentage of Aboriginal students in the school. Data is extracted using the mid-year census data from National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) – all Aboriginal enrolments.

Fund allocation

Schools receive the equity loading for Aboriginal background as flexible funding and/or a staffing allocation. The allocation may include Aboriginal education officer (AEO) or Aboriginal school learning support officer (ASLSO) entitlement appearing on published school enrolment and entitlement reports. Staff entitlement included in the Aboriginal background loading is funded from the loading and is not in addition to the loading.

Aboriginal student outcomes

The government wants all NSW school students to reach their potential, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The NSW Premier's Priorities call on all staff to work to increase the number of Aboriginal young people reaching their learning potential and increase the proportion of Aboriginal students attaining the HSC by 50%, while maintaining their cultural identity.

The Wellbeing Framework (2015) states that Aboriginal students will have an individual personalised learning pathway (PLP). Personalised learning pathways are an effective methodology for having a positive result on the educational and wellbeing outcomes of Aboriginal students and schools are encouraged to implement them using Aboriginal background equity loading funding. Personalised learning pathways can include the critical work that might occur at key transition points for Aboriginal students (from home to school, Year 6 to Year 7, Year 10 to Years 11 and 12 and from school to work or further study).

The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration commits all Australian Governments to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners to reach their full potential.

Partnerships and engagement

It is imperative that school principals and teachers consult their Aboriginal community and/or local or regional AECG when implementing the Aboriginal Education Policy. The strength, knowledge and diversity of the community should be shared and promoted and a respectful and collaborative relationship maintained. Engaging Aboriginal people in co-decision making should be embedded as a critical element of successful practice. Acknowledgement of and consultation with the AECG as the peak community advisory body should be sought when implementing Aboriginal programs.

Through the Walking Together, Working Together (PDF 4.7 MB) Partnership Agreement between the NSW AECG and the NSW Department of Education 2020-2030, the NSW AECG and the department agree to use their best endeavours to ensure that every Aboriginal child and young person in NSW achieves their potential through education.

Inclusive curricula and pedagogy

Schools must provide inclusive curricula for Aboriginal education aligned with the Australian curriculum and each of the NSW syllabuses as outlined in their cross curriculum priorities. Through professional learning and the curriculum, schools increase their knowledge and understanding of the histories, cultures and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to ensure schools are culturally responsive and teachers and students are culturally competent.

The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures cross-curriculum priority provides an opportunity for all young Australians to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, knowledge traditions and holistic world views.

Schools must ensure that teachers know their Aboriginal students and understand the importance of their identity, culture and extended family members. Teachers must build their cultural competence to meet the learning needs of Aboriginal students and ensure educational success and wellbeing as identified in the following professional standards:

School planning, reporting and accountability

Every school is required to incorporate excellence and improvement measures for all Aboriginal students into their Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP) and detail the steps that will be taken to improve learning outcomes. The SIP must show the school community, inclusive of their local AECG, about how they propose to use the funds to support students.

Schools must ensure that Aboriginal background equity loading funding is used to develop and embed strategies and initiatives that progress successful outcomes for Aboriginal education and improve outcomes for Aboriginal students. Reporting should focus on evaluating the success and effectiveness of achieving these outcomes.

The way schools use their funding will vary based on local needs. Aboriginal background equity loading funding should be treated as a component of the whole school budget when addressing the needs of Aboriginal students, and not considered as separate or the only source of funds.

Schools should have an Aboriginal education advisory team that includes local AECG representation and supports a culture of high expectations and community engagement, resulting in sustained and measurable whole-school improvement. Resources must be strategically used to achieve improved student outcomes and maximise the opportunities to explore innovative practices that support continuous improvement in student achievement.

Accountability for the effective use of funds to improve student learning also occurs through the annual report.

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