The TECP project was an ICT initiative of the Australian Government’s Department of Education formerly Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) which focused on improving student engagement, attendance and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The first phase of the TECP project was delivered by Community Prophets in 2012 to over 200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students across 15 schools in 3 regions of Victoria, Ballarat, Echuca and Healesville. The students produced a book of digital stories and a CD of songs written and recorded by the students with the assistance of some very special Indigenous mentors and musicians.
In 2014, the second phase of the TECP project was rolled out in Echuca. Developed in collaboration with the Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (LAECG) it was given extensive support by the local Elders and schools. Students from six neighbouring schools participated in an additional weeklong program that focused on the critical themes of Identity, Community, Country and Culture. The main components of the program were storytelling and song-writing workshops where students explored their cultural heritage and started to tell their own story.
The Community Prophets model employed in 2014 is captured in the short films on the Teacher Resources page. In this section, some of the key strategies used to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in their learning are highlighted.
THE COMMUNITY PROPHETS MODEL
Relationship. Collaboration. Validation. These are the touchstone words for all of our community projects. The model we use is anchored by the relationship we have with the communities we work with. We establish that relationship by using the correct protocols and speaking with representatives, leaders and Elders and recognising the vast pool of knowledge that resides within each the community. Then we can begin to collaborate.
Most Indigenous communities are familiar with being ‘told how' a program might roll out, yet in our experience the communities are always the experts in knowing the best themes to engage their children. Only when we have the community working alongside us and advising us on the best local people and the best themes, then we begin shaping the program to reflect the values, aims and focus of the community we are working with. That’s how we ensure that the young people who attend our programs will feel safe to use their voices in the learning environment we create.
In a community supported learning space, students can have their identity and feelings validated. And by using the creative arts we can amplify their voices on the digital platforms that they most want to be validated upon. Relationship. Collaboration. Validation.
TECP 2014 OUTCOMES
(i) A collection of songs written and produced by students with the assistance of Indigenous musicians.
(ii) A book of stories written by the students on themes ranging from family to sovereignty.
(iii) A number of film clips that highlight the approach adopted by Community Prophets and explore key themes that are essential to student engagement including: ‘Community Ownership and Involvement in Learning’, ‘Connection to Country’, ‘Identity and Belonging’ and ‘Using the Creative Arts’.
(iv) A Teacher Guide that details many strategies that can be used to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in their learning.
(v) A selection of interviews with elders, community leaders, mentors, Koorie Education workers, teachers, principals and trainers/musicians.