Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support at TasTAFE

Tasmania’s public training provider, TasTAFE, has a dedicated team which supports more than 1000 Aboriginal* students each year.

TasTAFE CEO, Jenny Dodd, said the Aboriginal Training Programs (ATP) Team provides support, advice and assistance to Aboriginal students, including apprentice and trainees, who wish to enrol, or are already enrolled at TasTAFE.

“The aim is to provide students with support from the time they start thinking about training with us right through to the completion of their qualification,” Ms Dodd said.

“ATP staff establish a connection with Aboriginal students at the point of enrolment to discuss their specific needs and the support available. The ATP Team offers a wide range of support, including helping students to overcome barriers to successful learning, course information and enrolment, arranging tutorial/study support and assisting students in determining career and study pathways.

“Assistance also includes information on Aboriginal community events, organisations and services and TasTAFE has a range of financial support mechanisms in place for Aboriginal students who meet eligibility for Tasmanian Government Aboriginal students. 

“Our ATP positions are all identified meaning staff have strong links to the Aboriginal community. Staff consult closely with Aboriginal community networks and organisations to ensure TasTAFE programs and service continue to address the barriers people face in vocational education and training,” Ms Dodd said.

Ms Dodd said ATP team had ensured that this support has continued for students while they have been studying from home during COVID-19.

Since 11 May, TasTAFE has begun inviting some students onto its campuses in very small timetabled groups for practical learning and assessments. This is combined with delivered of digital learning for students at home.  This is in line with WorkSafe Tasmania tertiary education guidelines which specifically state that that TAFEs must continue to deliver online learning where possible, and to maintain small class sizes if face-to-face learning is required.

“With our students doing much of their learning in the digital world at the moment, TasTAFE’s student support teams have continued to provide student support to Aboriginal students via phone and online,” Ms Dodd said.

Another key role of the ATP team is to promote and celebrate Aboriginal culture and events on TasTAFE campuses, including NAIDOC Week, National Sorry Day, Aboriginal Children’s Day and more, along with providing training and advice on Aboriginal cross- cultural awareness and cultural safety to staff and students.

Due to COVIOD-19 restrictions this year the usual on-campus celebrations have not been possible but the ATP team have come up with some innovative ways to still celebrate NADOC Week.

The team will be launching an Aboriginal Support section on TasTAFE’s staff intranet.

“This will be the go-to place for our staff to find information for themselves, their subject area and their students.  Information will be purposeful, culturally appropriate and current. 

“For our students, broader community and the general public, ATP will be holding virtual celebrations on their Facebook page. This will include a competition, a nostalgic look back over past NAIDOC Week celebrations that have been held at TasTAFE and a daily story on the 2020 Theme….Always was, always will be……with a different focus each day.  

 “Each day there will be a different slant on the theme that will promote the richness and diversity of the Aboriginal Community and the importance placed on these things by Aboriginal people.  The posts will be informative and educational,” Ms Dodd said.

*All references to Aboriginal also includes Torres Strait Islander People.