Fourteen Aboriginal students working towards Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care in Toronto

STUDENTS: TAFE NSW enables participants in the program to study in Early Childhood Education and Care not in a classroom, but at the Toronto-based Aboriginal child and family centre, Nikinpa. Picture: Supplied
STUDENTS: TAFE NSW enables participants in the program to study in Early Childhood Education and Care not in a classroom, but at the Toronto-based Aboriginal child and family centre, Nikinpa. Picture: Supplied

FOURTEEN Aboriginal people are on track to earn a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care that will ultimately see them work with Aboriginal children.

The students are benefiting from a partnership between TAFE NSW Glendale and Toronto-based Aboriginal child and family centre, Nikinpa.

Once they achieved the nationally-recognised qualification, the students would then have an almost-guaranteed employment outcome either with Nikinpa or a mainstream Aboriginal childcare provider, a spokesperson for TAFE NSW said.

Nikinpa manager Emma Beckett said when the year-long program ran three years ago, all students who saw the program through and sought employment were successful.

"The students of the TAFE NSW Glendale program at Nikinpa are really valued in the industry because of the cultural competencies and content they can bring," Ms Beckett said.

"It is important that young impressionable children have indigenous role models in their lives when they are growing up and that isn't always the case in early education.

"There is no better person to educate an Aboriginal child then an Aboriginal educator because they will have a better understanding of that child, their needs, their cultures, the challenges they may face and the celebrations they may be involved in.

"There is no doubt that the young person will relate better to an Aboriginal educator. It's about connectedness, knowing and belonging."

Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that in 2016 2.36 per cent of preschool teachers identified as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, while 3.3 per cent of individuals in the population identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

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"We know there are many Aboriginal people out there who are capable, competent and interested in working with children but they can't necessarily attend a TAFE NSW facility," Ms Beckett said.

"Aboriginal people are much more likely to attend a culturally safe place - they know that kind of space and they are comfortable with it.

"They know our service here at Nikinpa and know they can be successful here.

Graduates of the program will have an almost-guaranteed employment outcome either with Nikinpa or a mainstream Aboriginal childcare provider. Picture: Supplied

Graduates of the program will have an almost-guaranteed employment outcome either with Nikinpa or a mainstream Aboriginal childcare provider. Picture: Supplied

"We have all the equipment that's needed for training at Nikinpa and we have the children here too, so the students can easily access the practical experience they need to be high-value childcare workers. They also conduct excursions out in the bush, learning about risk assessments, and visit the local school.

"The Aboriginal Engagement Unit at TAFE NSW have been great, too.

"They've helped organise the program and bring the Aboriginal perspective into the teaching. Plus, the staff at Nikinpa are welcome to join in and contribute whenever we like, so the students feel really supported and nurtured throughout the program."

TAFE NSW regional general manager Susie George said the organisation was delivering culturally sensitive education and training to Aboriginal people.

"I am looking forward to hearing of the student success stories from this program, as the community benefits from more Aboriginal childcare workers taking care of their own," Ms George said.

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