Working with Indigenous students in Mildura

As part of the Master of Teaching elective Australian Indigenous Education, a group of primary candidates spent a week working with two schools in and around Mildura; Mildura Primary School and Dareton Primary School.

Both schools have large indigenous populations, with Mildura the bigger and more diverse of the two. Ben Eretz was one of the students placed in Dareton, a smaller school with a larger proportion of Aboriginal students.

“The week I spent in Dareton was really powerful,” he said. “It was a difficult and challenging experience but also a really good one. It really heightened my understanding of the issues surrounding Aboriginal education - being on the ground made them more real.”

Course coordinator Bernadette Murphy said the placement was challenging and rewarding for the students.

“Dareton is an old mission site, and many issues remain there,” she said. “But the school is a great place with a wonderful principal. The students consolidated what they had learnt in the whole course in the week of experience, and it really helped their understanding of Indigenous education.”

Ben said he was grateful for this experience at such an early point in his teaching career.

“We gave the students disposable cameras with the brief to take photos of things that were special to them; the photos they came back with were incredible!” he said. “As educators we hear lots about the need for high expectations and this proved to me that all students are capable; disadvantage does not mean kids are capable of less. That was a good lesson to learn now, before I start teaching.”

The Graduate School will continue to build links with the Aboriginal communities in Mildura, through the two schools as well as its growing connections with the Mildura United Soccer Club and the Mildura and District Aboriginal Corporation (MADAC).