Connected Communities Strategy

The Connected Communities Strategy provides differentiated, holistic learning underpinned by local Aboriginal culture. By positioning schools as 'community hubs', the strategy supports the delivery of key services to students and families through government and non-government inter-agency collaboration, in some of the most complex locations across NSW.

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History of the Connected Communities Strategy

The Connected Communities Strategy began in 2013. It was created because it was clear that a new approach was needed to how we deliver education and training in our most vulnerable communities, and to how we link to other related services, such as health, welfare, early childhood education and care, and vocational education and training.

The Connected Communities Strategy was co-designed and co-constructed with the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc.

How the strategy works

At Connected Communities schools, inter-agency cooperation is led by the Executive Principal. Executive Principals are remunerated at a higher level because of their additional responsibilities.

Read more about the role of the Executive Principal.

Each Connected Communities school employs an Aboriginal-identified community engagement officer to assist the Executive Principals build relationships.

Read more about the Senior Leader/Leader, Community Engagement.

Students and teachers benefit from inbuilt relief and executive enhancement.

The increased inbuilt relief model provides an additional 1–4 positions at each Connected Communities school. This allows time and opportunity for teachers to deeply engage in meaningful professional learning to strengthen their ability to deliver educational outcomes to disadvantaged students.

The executive enhancement supports teachers and students through an additional Assistant Principal – Mentor position at the primary schools and a Head Teacher – Mentor position at the high schools, to strengthen the capacity and capability of the middle executive, early career teachers and all teachers.

The strategy also provides an Early Childhood teacher at the four Central and Primary schools without a public preschool and Learning and Engagement Centres resourced with a Head Teacher and Student Learning Support Officer.

See which schools are implementing the strategy.

The Healing and Wellbeing model recognises intergenerational trauma. It provides culturally appropriate support for Aboriginal students and opportunities for local Aboriginal community members to broaden their knowledge and skills in counselling and youth work, which enables them to assist students maximise their educational experience.

Read more about the Healing and Wellbeing model.

The construct of the Local School Reference Group was developed exclusively for Connected Communities schools to empower the voice of Aboriginal people. Each school has a unique governance structure which reflects the very essence of key stakeholder engagement by involving members of the Community in the vision and aspirations their locality is forging for its youth.

Read more about the Local School Reference Group.

Key Deliverables

  • Aboriginal children are increasingly developmentally ready to benefit from schooling - in their physical health, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills and communication.
  • Aboriginal families and community members are actively engaged in the school.
  • Attendance rates for Aboriginal students are equal to the state average.
  • Aboriginal students are increasingly achieving at or above national minimum standards and overall levels of literacy and numeracy achievement are improving.
  • Aboriginal students are staying at school until Year 12 (or equivalent training).
  • Aboriginal students are transitioning from school into post-school options such as training and/or employment.
  • Aboriginal parents and carers report that service delivery from the school site is flexible and responsive to their needs.
  • Aboriginal students and communities report that the school values their identity, culture, goals and aspirations.
  • Staff report that professional learning opportunities build their capacity to personalise their teaching to meet the learning needs of all students in their class.
  • Staff report that professional learning opportunities build their understandings and connections with the community.

Location Selection

Work was done to create a list of possible locations where the strategy could be implemented. To do this, the department looked at the following:

  • Social circumstances that determine disadvantage – as defined by the World Health Organisation – as these have an effect on how students can learn and engage. These included health status, affordability and availability of fresh food and vegetables and basic household products, access to housing and transport, social exclusion and levels of unemployment.
  • Educational outcomes over time – drawn from the department’s own data, which included attendance, NAPLAN, and HSC data.
  • Local knowledge – which included input from the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG).

Other NSW Government agencies provided data to help shape this work. This included the Department of Communities and Justice, the Ministry of Health, the Aboriginal Housing Office, Transport for NSW, and Police NSW.

Taking into account the parts mentioned above, all the data was analysed to determine where locations the strategy could be located. Following consultation with the NSW AECG Inc., the Primary Principals Association, the Secondary Principals Council, the Parent and Citizens Association and the NSW Teachers Federation, , a list of possible schools was presented to the NSW Government Cabinet (via its Delivery and Performance Committee).

Connection to Government

Closing the Gap represents the Australian Government’s commitment to achieving specific targets for reducing inequalities in Aboriginal life expectancy, mortality, early childhood education, reading, writing and numeracy and employment.

The 2020 evaluation found service access has increased across all Connected Communities schools, with school staff reporting more linkages with services and more students accessing health services in particular.

Read the Closing the Gap report

Download our resources


  • Communication and engagement

Business Unit:

  • Aboriginal Education and Communities
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