About the ‘Indigenous voices: teaching us better’ project

  • About
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The Aim

How can the learning experiences and outcomes of Indigenous students at all levels of the education system be improved?

One important step is for teachers and trainers to listen to the stories and experiences of Indigenous students and to learn from these. In this way the project aims to build the capacity of Vocational Education and Training (VET) trainers to effectively teach Indigenous learners.

This website aims to give trainers insights into the experiences that Indigenous learners have when they come in contact with the education and training system, as well as to provide them with some strategies to try out to improve the educational experiences of Indigenous learners.

The Website

The website is made up of a series of audio, video and text files from interviews with Indigenous learners who are currently, or have in the past, been involved in Vocational Education and Training (VET). These stories are about learners’ experiences in the education system.  Although the focus of the website is on VET, learners also talked about their experiences in the school system and in Higher Education as well as in VET.

A number of trainers also contributed to the development of the website. The site contains audio and video files about what trainers have found works for them in providing excellence in training for Indigenous learners.


There is a strong need for educators to hear and learn from the experiences of Indigenous learners given that while Indigenous students enrol in VET at similar rates to non-Indigenous students across Australia, the course completion rate in any year for Indigenous students is only 13%1. This is less than half of the course completion rate for non-Indigenous students2.

One of the key factors in student success is the trainer. In order to improve outcomes and experiences of Indigenous students it is important that VET trainers are provided with the opportunity to become more aware of the experiences that Indigenous students have in education. It is also important for trainers to develop strategies that enhance their teaching practice.

The Website

This website provides an opportunity to hear directly from Indigenous learners about what works for them in education and training.

The audio, video and text based interviews contained in the website are organised around nine thematic areas. The audio and video files are supported by written transcripts and a glossary is included to explain some of the lesser known terms used in the stories.

The nine organising themes are:

Within each theme area, there are three sections, What the learners say, What the trainers say, and Strategies for trainers.

The Learners

The learners who contributed to this website tell stories about their very different experiences in education. The learners are Indigenous Australians, range in age and gender, and live in the Northern Territory.  The interviews and stories were recorded in three remote Indigenous communities as well as in one major urban centre in the Northern Territory.

The learners are currently engaged in training or have been in the past. For some, the training has been through formal VET courses, including work-based apprenticeships, and for others it has been through informal work-based training.

The stories provide wide representation of Indigenous voices and express a range of educational experiences in various contexts. These stories should assist trainers and others supporting Indigenous learners to better understand and respond to their experiences and learning needs.

The website is fantastic – it’s great to read the students’ stories – it’s certainly given me a better understanding of some of the challenges they face and how we can assist them to achieve their goals.
Anne – a workplace supervisor

The Trainers

This website was designed to capture the voices of Indigenous learners; however, along the way many trainers were also willing to share their experiences and perspectives of what works in the delivery of training for Indigenous learners.

The trainers who contributed to this website were working in a range of environments and across different fields of knowledge. Some of the trainers were teaching accredited VET courses in a classroom, in the field, in the community or in the workplace. Some trainers were providing non-accredited work based supervision and training, while others were coordinating training in their roles as supervisors or managers.

The trainers’ stories provide a different perspective to education and training than that given by the learners.

Strategies for Trainers

A list of strategies for trainers is included in most of the thematic areas of the website. The strategies have come directly from the stories told on the website: they are drawn from the experiences and observations of the learners and trainers who participated in this project.

The strategies relate to the specific experiences of the contributing learners and trainers, and may or may not be relevant for trainers to try out in their own teaching and learning environments. The strategies are a starting point, and they will not be relevant in every situation. They are intended to stimulate thinking, discussion and action to improve teaching practice


1Department of Finance and Deregulation (2010). Evaluation of the Indigenous Youth Mobility Program, Final Report, Office of Evaluation and Audit (Indigenous Programs), Australian Government, Barton.
2Mark, K. & Karmel, T. (2010). The likelihood of completing a VET qualification: A model-based approach, NCVER, Adelaide.


This website would not have been possible without support from the Australian Flexible Learning Framework, E-learning Innovations fund and the Office of Learning, Teaching and Community Engagement (OLTCE) at Charles Darwin University.

Thanks to

Angelee Wauchope, Joel Reid, Matthew Grant, Kevin Bird, Sarimah Buyong, Michael Hicks, Therese Kersten, Anne Wilson, Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation, Heleana Wauchope, Josie Rostron, Andrée Simpson, Vera Cameron, Cecilia Chainsaw, Leisa Murray, Ingrid Clarke, Yvonne Townsend, Cyril Oliver, Deborah Ann Corey, Elizabeth Wullunmingu, Marita Wilton, John Don Wilton, Ivan Namarnyilk, Victor Rostron, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Thamarrurr Catholic School, Geraldine Dorward, Sister Emmanuel Chapman, Allen Murphy, Barry Malezer, Xavier Community Education Centre, Joanna Bragg, Frederick Docking, Jacinta Alimankinni, Alberta Tipungwuti, Antonio Tipiloura, Nardene Murphy and John Ross Pilakui.


Audio and video recording: Alison Reedy, OLTCE, CDU
Audio and video editing: Alison Reedy, Paula Wilson, OLTCE, CDU
Transcription: Ruth Ridgwell, Top Type Transcription & Secretarial
Graphics: Helen Rysavy, Alison Reedy, Paula Wilson, OLTCE, CDU and Heleana Wauchope
Script Writer: Alison Reedy, OLTCE
Editing: Alison Reedy, OLTCE, CDU with Angelee Wauchope & Nardene Murphy


Produced by: Alison Reedy, OLTCE, CDU
Storyboard: Alison Reedy, OLTCE, CDU
Design: Helen Rysavy, Alison Reedy, OLTCE, CDU with Angelee Wauchope & Joel Reid
Layout: Helen Rysavy and Alison Reedy, OLTCE, CDU
Web design and graphics: Helen Rysavy, OLTCE, CDU