How can you engage with your local Aboriginal Community?


Building a strong relationship between schools and their local Aboriginal communities will enhance the learning experience of students. Consultation with Aboriginal communities is essential in the development of meaningful Aboriginal perspectives and studies across the curriculum. Connection ensures Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students are confident in their heritage, cultures and languages and will enable every student in NSW to understand the heritage and culture of the Aboriginal people on whose land/s they live.

It is important that a rapport be established with members of the local Aboriginal community. Your Local or Regional NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) is the perfect starting point to engage with local community members. This fact sheet provides information to schools on establishing and building local connections. It details how to access knowledge and research to form connections and ways for educators to strengthen relationships.

Timeframe for use:

This resource can be accessed and utilised by all staff at any time.

Intended audience:

This resource can be used by a range of school-based staff to support Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students.

Instructions for use:

Schools can seek the assistance from their Local or Regional AECG and Aboriginal Land Council. Details for use can be found in the resource.

Evidence base:

Alignment to system priorities and/or needs:
Aboriginal Education Policy:
The department will provide Aboriginal cultural education for all staff and education about Aboriginal Australia for all students, as it is everybody’s business. The strength, diversity, ownership and richness of Aboriginal cultures and custodianship of country are respected, valued and promoted. The department is committed to collaborative decision making with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, parents, caregivers, families and their communities. The effective practice identified in this resource relies on the cultural knowledge and intellect of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Elders and members of the Aboriginal community.

Alignment to School Excellence Framework:
Learning Domain – Reporting, Learning Domain – Wellbeing Learning Domain – Learning Cultural, Teaching Domain Learning and Development, Leading Domain – Educational Leadership, Leading Domain – School Planning, Implementation and Reporting, Leading Domain – School Resources Leading Domain – Management Practices and Processes.

Consulted with:
NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (NSW AECG).

Reviewed by:
Aboriginal Education and Communities Directorate.

Created/last updated:
December 2023.

Anticipated resource review date:
This resource will be reviewed in December 2024. To ensure ongoing improvement of this resource, feedback on this resource can be provided via the survey or QR code below.

Universal Resources - Aboriginal Education feedback survey QR code Universal Resources - Aboriginal Education feedback survey QR code

Where do we start?

It is important for you to actively seek out information and build connections with your local Aboriginal community. Below are some suggestions that may assist you to develop local connections and build stronger relationships.

Learn about your local Aboriginal community

It is important that a rapport be established with members of your local Aboriginal community. Be aware that people might not offer their knowledge and assistance at first. The process will take time and must be based on mutual respect.

Research your local community and develop a Local Aboriginal Organisation directory. Your Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) and Aboriginal Land Council (ALC) office can provide more information about organisations and cultural events in your area. They can also introduce you to local Elders and community leaders.

Tradtional Custodians

Research of Traditional Custodians can be supported by the Local AECG and ALC or online. Developing connections with local Elders and community leaders can also inform your knowledge and research. The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Studies has published a map of language, tribal or nation groups, which is a useful starting point.

Find out what land or nation your families have connections with

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students are connected to their local Culture i.e. family, land, water, story and language. As you develop relationships with families, you should discuss what land or nation each family has connections with. Discussing your own family background may create a greater sense of belonging for students and families. Some families may have connections to local land through marriage or re-settlement, and so can be connected to more than one land or nation.

Meet with your local community

One way of establishing and building relationships with the local Aboriginal community is to attend community events and meetings. Take the time to explain to the local people who you are, what you do and how members of the Aboriginal community can be involved in your school programs.

There are many opportunities to celebrate the histories, cultures and languages of your local community throughout the school year.

Provide opportunities for all educators to establish relationships with community members and participate in events and community activities so it becomes a shared team experience.

Your Local or Regional AECG is the perfect starting point to engage with local community members. Talk to your Principal, Aboriginal Education Committee and/or AEO to seek further advice.

For more information contact

Aboriginal Education and Communities Directorate
Level 8, 105 Phillip Street,
Parramatta, NSW 2150
PH: 02 7814 3507


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