Bernie Goldie

‘Lighthouse’ program helps ensure retention of Aboriginal teachers

A program which helps ensure the retention of Aboriginal teachers in the workforce was celebrated at a gathering of those involved in the program on 15 November at UOW’s Innovation Campus.

In May 2011, 15 local Aboriginal teachers and school executives within the Illawarra Southeast Region of NSW took part in a special Aboriginal Teacher Mentor Program. The program is a collaborative initiative of the Australian Centre for Educational Leadership at the University of Wollongong (UOW) and the NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC) and forms part of the More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teacher Initiative (MATSITI).

The aim of the program is to provide access to skilled and trained mentors who will work with local Aboriginal teachers and for the mentors to learn more about the experiences of Aboriginal teachers.

Following on from the success of the first program, this is the second year of the lauded ‘Lighthouse’ program. The 2012 cohort was launched in June with the final phase held on15 November.

Director of the Australian Centre for Educational Leadership in the Faculty of Education at the University of Wollongong, Associate Professor Narottam Bhindi, said it was a very encouraging program designed to ensure the retention of Aboriginal teachers who are new to their role.

At the same time, Professor Bhindi said it assisted experienced teachers and executives to contribute to their ongoing career and leadership development.

“The development of this ‘lighthouse’ program is intended to support Aboriginal teachers and their mentors to build a successful relationship. As such, it integrates with DEC’s ongoing commitment to improve the employment and professional development opportunities for Aboriginal teachers,” Professor Bhindi said.

The Dean of Education, Professor Paul Chandler, said: “The faculty is thrilled with this innovative partnership and recognises the aims and values of supporting Aboriginal educators and teachers as a significant commitment.”

“Those who are engaged with this program recognise the need to encourage and motivate other Aboriginal teachers and educators and take advantage of such opportunities,” he said.

Project Administrator, Sarah Smith, pointed out that the Aboriginal Teacher Mentor Program “has been identified as an exemplary case of best practice in the current Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People”.

The program is led by a team of highly experienced facilitators including Mr Bruce Sander (Principal, Bulli High School); Michelle Brook (Department of Education and Communities); Dr Brian Cambourne and Associate Professor Narottam Bhindi (Faculty of Education, UOW).


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  • ’Lighthouse’ program participants meet at the Innovation Campus