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Ninti One CRC Remote Economic Participation
Project Update
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About the project


The Remote Education Systems (RES) project aims to find out how remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can get the best benefit from the teaching and learning happening in and out of schools. It is doing this by engaging with members of communities, schools, government agencies and other end users who want to find ways of improving outcomes for students in remote Australia. To date we’ve engaged directly with more than 1200 remote education stakeholders across the country. The project will conclude in June 2016. Previous project updates can be found on the Remote Education Systems pages http://crc-rep.com/remote-education-systems

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Findings: Money matters

Among the many interesting findings that comes out of the RES project, from our analysis of myschool data, is the relationship between resourcing and attendance. While we would urge some caution in the interpretation, looking at the trend line, it is evident that those schools with attendance rates below 60 per cent tend to attract less funding than those with attendance rates above 60 per cent. Alternatively it could be that schools that have higher attendance rates are the ones that attract higher levels of recurrent funding. Either way, what is certain, is that schools with greater levels of recurrent funding have more resources to make their schools more inviting for students. They can employ more local people, offer more professional development, they can offer a greater array of learning activities, and they can buy in more additional resources. This is not a magic bullet though. Our qualitative data suggests that how the resources are used matters, rather than how much money is available. Some schools with relatively low levels of recurrent income have relatively high attendance rates, so we are careful not to suggest that simply adding more money will ‘fix attendance’. However, as the chart suggest, money is a factor in the sum of inputs that contribute to higher levels of attendance. 
Figure 1. Relationship between resourcing and school attendance, very remote schools with more than 80 per cent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, 2009-2013 (data source: myschool.edu.au)
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NCVER project: Enhancing training advantage


John Guenther and a team of researchers associated with RES, put in a successful bid for a National Centre for Vocational Education Research funded project. The project will examine five case studies of training and adult learning that we think work well, in the APY Lands of South Australia, the top end of the Northern Territory, west Kimberley, Cape York and western New South Wales. The key problem that this project addresses is how to improve retention rates towards employability. Across these regions completion rates in VET programs are only about 16 per cent. This represents considerable inefficiencies, which if addressed should prove beneficial for funders, trainers and adult learners too. If you are interested in finding out more about this exciting project email John at john.guenther@flinders.edu.au

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People update

Congratulations to Susannah Emery on gaining a First Class Honours grade for her Honours project—and more importantly on contributing to a to significant area of innovation with technology in remote education. Susannah created a trailer for an app that could be developed to assist parents and young children be more school ready. View the trailer here. Congratulations also to Susannah on being a finalist in the South Australian ‘Women in Innovation and Technology Awards’. Great achievements all round!

On the subject of achievements, congratulations also go to Tessa Benveniste and Elisha Vlaholias (pictured below, courtesy of the Big Issue) on winning the 2015 National ‘Big Ideas’ award in the post-graduate student division. Their idea, ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ will revitalise part of an Adelaide park as a community garden providing flexible and transitional employment, education, and training opportunities for people experiencing homelessness. More on this story here
In other good news, Sam Osborne has now submitted his PhD thesis after lots of blood, sweat and not so many tears. You can get a taster of what’s included by reading an article in the latest Special Edition of the Australian Journal of Indigenous Education. The article, titled Learning from Anangu Histories: Population Centralisation and Decentralisation Influences and the Provision of Schooling in Tristate Remote Communities considers the significance that history plays in the development of schooling in the Tristate region of central Australia. Sam officially finished with the RES project at the end of November 2015, but will continue to work with us on various activities over the coming months. We wish him all the best and thank him for his tremendous contribution to our work.
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Lecture series wrap-up

Around 400 people attended the 11 Remote Education Systems lectures held in Adelaide, Alice Springs, Darwin, Broome and Armidale between November 2014 and November 2015. The lectures, which are available here, will be turned into an e-book in the first part of 2016 and will be freely available for download. The lectures address a number of theoretical and conceptual topics such as problematising understandings of ‘disadvantage’, how remote education can be viewed through complexity theory, and understandings of power and pedagogy. They also consider some of our empirical evidence about what success looks like, how teaching needs to change, and what education is for from a remote community perspective. A third focus of the lectures is on policy considerations: how systems can respond in terms of workforce development, implementing a ‘red dirt curriculum’ and ‘engaging’ communities.
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Publications and presentations


University of the Free State, South Africa visit

In October, John Guenther had the privilege of giving a keynote address to the Sustainable Learning Ecologies Coloquium, ahead of the South African Education Research Association conference at the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein. The paper was titled ‘Sustainable Learning Environments in remote Australia’. It can be accessed here.

The visit was hosted by UFS colleague, Dipane Hlalale, pictured above (left of John). The trip included visits to a ‘deep rural’ boarding school, a cultural village and the QwaQwa campus of UFS—a great opportunity to share knowledge and learn.

Language, Education and Diversity Conference, New Zealand

RES team member Samantha Disbray attended the Language, Education and Diversity Conference in Auckland, 23-26th November, with colleagues from the Warlpiri Education and Training Trust (WETT), Barbara Martin and Enid Gallagher (pictured above). The team took part in a symposium ‘Multilingual learning in and out of school in remote Indigenous Australia’. They presented papers on the Warlpiri Curriculum Cycle and Database, a working example of Red Dirt Curriculum, and on out of school learning spaces. In this, Enid talked about the successful youth program operated by the Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation. About 45 people attended the session, which was well received by members of the international audience.

One highlight of the busy conference was the symposium ‘Indigenous culturally sustaining/revitalising pedagogy – humanising, decolonising, and carrying the agenda forward’. Another was the day long workshop on international Indigenous language education, attended by Indigenous educators from places such as the US, Canada and Norway.

There were many more interesting papers and key note sessions. Everyone enjoyed the collegial atmosphere and the beautiful city, Auckland. We even managed a quick trip across the bay to the little township of Devonport. Participation at the conference was funded by Charles Darwin University, WETT and the CRC-REP.

New peer reviewed publications include:

Benveniste, T., Dawson, D., & Rainbird, S. (2015). The Role of the Residence: Exploring the Goals of an Aboriginal Residential Program in Contributing to the Education and Development of Remote Students. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, FirstView, 1-10. doi: doi:10.1017/jie.2015.19

Disbray, S. (2015). Spaces for learning: policy and practice for indigenous languages in a remote context. Language and Education, 1-20. doi: 10.1080/09500782.2015.1114629

Guenther, J., Disbray, S., & Osborne, S. (2015). Building on ‘Red Dirt’ Perspectives: What Counts as Important for Remote Education? Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 44(2), 194-206. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/jie.2015.20

Guenther, J., Halsey, J., & Osborne, S. (2015). From Paradise to beyond: Geographical constructs and how they shape education in the ‘bush’ . Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 25(3).

Guenther, J., Osborne, S., Arnott, A., & McRae-Williams, E. (2015). Hearing the voice of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander training stakeholders using research methodologies and theoretical frames of reference. Race Ethnicity and Education, 1-12. doi: 10.1080/13613324.2015.1110294

Lovell, J. (2015). Customary Assets and Contemporary Artistry: Multimodal Learning and Remote Economic Participation. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, FirstView, 1-10. doi:10.1017/jie.2015.24

Townsend, P. (2015). Mobile Devices for Tertiary Study – Philosophy Meets Pragmatics for Remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, FirstView, 1-11. doi: doi:10.1017/jie.2015.26

Book review

Burke, C. P. (2015). Indigenous Kids and Schooling in the Northern Territory: An Introductory Overview and Brief History of Aboriginal Education in the Northern Territory Penny Lee, Lyn Fasoli, Lysbeth Ford, Peter Stephenson and Dennis McInerney Batchelor Press, Northern Territory, 2014, 236pp, ISBN 9781741312881. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, FirstView, 1-4. doi:10.1017/jie.2015.18

Conference papers

Guenther, J. (2015). Sustainable Learning Environments in remote Australia. Paper presented at the Sustainable Learning Ecologies Colloquium, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein. https://www.academia.edu/17328146/Sustainable_Learning_Environments_in_remote_Australia
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Stay in Contact


We invite you to pass this update onto colleagues and friends who might also be interested in this research. We always value feedback – contact details are below,
so please stay in touch or contact us for further information.

John Guenther, 0412 125 661 john.guenther@flinders.edu.au

Samantha Disbray, 0437 330 042 Samantha.Disbray@cdu.edu.au

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Project Partners

We acknowledge the support of our partners in the work of our research.

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