FFIE Newsletter 8: Focus on inclusion and first nation students and families

The cover of the newsletterAcknowledgement of Country:  CRU respectfully acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as Australia’s first peoples and the traditional owners/custodians of the land on which we work and live. We pay respect to Elders, past and present, recognise the significant contributions of our First Nations people, and seek relationships based on recognition, reconciliation and  justice.

This special edition of our Families for Inclusive Education newsletter focuses on intersections between successful inclusion for students with disability and inclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

We are excited to share a family story of a young North Queensland student, Kassidy, who became the Indigenous captain of her primary school, and who also happens to have Down syndrome. As a proud ambassador for her Torres Strait Islander culture, Kassidy has had many opportunities to contribute to her school community, and develop her own leadership skills.

Kassidy’s story exemplifies the truth that we all have multiple identities, and that school inclusion can provide ways for those identities and strengths to be valued.

We also share reflections from our CRU team about two powerful learning experiences. The first was CRU’s collaboration with Central Queensland colleagues from the Department of Education, Cindy Willett and Barb Carroll, who helped to bring together a Yarning Circle in Mackay, attended by many of the Community Education Counsellors (CECs) and others working with First Nations families and students.

The second was a powerful session at CRU’s Peer Support training event where well-respected facilitator/educator Fiona Bobongie led a facilitated conversation for volunteer Peer Support contacts to expand cultural awareness and be sensitised to experiences, challenges and strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.