Team Member Reflection: Terry Moore
I joined the team in April 2016, just in time for the team meeting at Tennant Creek, where it was realised that the team needed someone to analyse the data that was being generated across the different communities. My work has focused on that analysis, which complements and includes some of the data from the community level. The data has revealed that there are some common concerns around aspiration to and success in further education across the communities. They show that people in the communities are consistent and virtually unanimous in their desire to:
- restore a greater degree of control of education within their own communities, within a far more equal relationship with (Northern Territory and Australian) governments;
- have governments contribute to the nurturance of their social and cultural health (including literacy in their own languages), seeing this as the essential foundation for successful school and further education; and
- have governments invest specifically in teaching English literacy and basic numeracy (LLN).
Though it is not always so clearly stated, it is evident in the data that schooling and further education is a matter of some tension, largely because it exists at the interface or intersection of the local and other cultures, and demands that everyone involved negotiate intercultural relationships, which can be both demanding and highly rewarding.
In my mind, this is a thoroughly reasonable Indigenous approach, and it is important, because it recognises that education and culture are mutually supportive. They are not mutually exclusive, as has been said for a long time. It recognises that a strong cultural foundation is necessary to school education (including English literacy), and that a strong school education is necessary to be able to maintain a healthy culture in the contemporary world. It is in fact, a model of the approach that Australia needs to follow in order to maintain a multicultural yet socially cohesive society.
I have developed this aspect of the WCE project, and it has contributed to the final evaluation report. I developed statements of the core findings in two collaborative conference presentations to be delivered in November. The first described the leadership that has been provided by WCE community staff in education over many years, and their value for the Indigenous and wider national community. The second explained the benefits and costs of the WCE as intercultural partnership (with a focus on Yalu mentoring as an exemplar). The findings were the basis of some very rewarding work at Galiwin’ku, and three applications for grant funding to extend the work on remote interculturality. I contributed to a collaborative presentation for the Australian Association for Research in Education in Melbourne. The themes addressed in these presentations will be the basis of academic publications that will contribute to wider understanding and (hopefully, and in the longer term) to policy change.
On the personal front, I enjoyed my time in Darwin and with the team hugely. As I said at that first meeting at Tennant Creek, I have felt at home since the beginning. I have very much enjoyed working with my campus-based mates, and the community staff who I had most to do with. I learned so much from you, and much that was unexpected about remote community life. My learning at 64 is far more intense than it was at 30; long may it continue. I now have a better perspective on my major interests in Indigenous affairs (and some terrific art to enjoy), so I owe you all a big thank you. It will be perfect if LLN and some other aspects of our work like intercultural training continue!