CSS Indigenous Studies Outreach Initiative

Mrs Irene Wardle with the Year 12 Native Studies class, taken at the Major Project exhibit, Cammeraygal High School

The program incorporated appropriate ethical research methodologies that reduced the demand on Indigenous communities from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual delivery allowed several students to share their questions about the major project to deepen cultural understanding and for teachers to gain insightful cultural teaching tools for future lesson planning. Cammeraygal Secondary School in Crows Nest, Green Point Christian College on the Central Coast and Sarah Redfern Secondary School in Minto participated in the program alongside their teachers.

The program produced the results of the CSS; including analysis of HSC exam questions; developing student major project ideas, ethical research methodologies and appropriate community consultation techniques and a live question-and-answer session with Indigenous knowledge holders. Students were able to document their ideas and meaningful cultural conversations in their journals, in preparation for the HSC major project criteria. The values ​​of the program were to culturally engage Indigenous Elders through a safe and appropriate consultation process during the challenges of COVID-19. Each student was able to ask Indigenous Elders and Indigenous educators direct questions about their projects. Topics included health, housing, criminal justice, agriculture, native languages, native clothing, arts, native dance and music.

HSC Native Studies offers high school students the opportunity to develop ethical and analytical research skills through their major project and content focuses on Indigenous peoples’ relationship with land, heritage and identity. Over the course of two years of classes, a historical inquiry into colonialism, racism, and prejudice, from pre-contact to recent events, is examined. The program allows students to connect their learning experiences and ideas for major projects through the cultural safety of Indigenous knowledge holders. The program is a celebration of the spirit of reconciliation processes.

The feedback received from Grade 12 students and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive. It demonstrated the positive impact of a tailor-made outreach activity, made possible through strong collaboration between colleagues at the University of Sydney and valued members of the Indigenous community.

The HSC Indigenous Studies Major Projects Consultancy Program is expected to return early in the fourth quarter of 2022, focusing on supporting schools in remote/rural areas and new teachers assigned to teach this course of the HSC. The Expression of Interest is open to teachers who may be assigned to the Grade 12 Native Studies course in 2023. Please Sign up for our expression of interest form.

Banne Image: The Three Sisters, photo taken by Catherine Rendell

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