Aboriginal student pathways – Public and Private Registered Training Organisations


There are three different forms of education and training providers within Victoria’s VET sector;

  1. Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions,
  2. Adult and Community Education (ACE) centres and
  3. private Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), also referred to as private providers.

Koorie Registered Training Organisations

Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO)

Since 2000 VACCHO has been delivering training on behalf of its member organizations. The training has delivered qualifications in Aboriginal Primary Health Care to Aboriginal Health Workers employed in the VACCHO Member Services.

In addition to the core health worker training, VACCHO’s Education and Training Unit delivers programs related to cultural awareness, practice management, Aboriginal in home support and improving the culture within hospitals.

For more information contact VACCHO enquiries@vaccho.com.au or telephone (03) 9411 9411www.vaccho.org.au

Koorie Heritage Trust

As an RTO the Koorie Heritage Trust provides certificate training in Koorie Arts and retail. The Trust’s training aims to assist in its overall objective to contribute to the protection, preservation and promotion of Koorie culture through engagement in, culturally sensitive training that is responsive to community needs and prepares our students to meet the needs of industry.

For more information contact the Koorie Heritage Trustinfo@koorieheritagetrust.com or telephone (03) 8622 2600www.koorieheritagetrust.com


Mirrimbeena is a Registered Training Organisation located in Echuca, teaching the art and technique of creating bush furniture using timber from the forest floor.

All Indigenous persons from the age of 16 and up are welcomed. We have been operating for eight years.

For more information contact:
Clive Atkinson on (03) 5480 0887 or 0408 104 111

NSW TAFE – BVET Aboriginal pathways research project

NSW Department of Education and Communities, May 2013, http://bit.ly/1GYFcv1

“…This course, and the TAFE location, and people I met (including the teachers) were pivotal to me gaining employment, learning about life in general and growing as an individual…”

“…It allowed me to dream on a whole other level.”

TAFE NSW student response, BVET Aboriginal pathways research project.

Key messages

This study reveals rich information on individual Aboriginal student success. However, it also demonstrates that further work is required to ‘close the gap’ between the education and training outcomes of Aboriginal and nonAboriginal Australians. There is pressure nationally to build a population with higher level skills and more employment resilience to cope with the changing nature of work.

This means that any successes in Aboriginal education must be viewed through the prism of overall educational attainment for Australians. The challenge for training organisations is to continually review and improve practice, to test strategies, to learn through mistakes and to innovate.

This report tells the story and journey of a group of 15–24 year old Aboriginal students who enrolled in TAFE NSW for the first time in 2005. It traces their course enrolments and completions over the six year period 2005–2010 to determine how many achieved an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificate III level qualification or above—the study’s measure of success. The study confirms that selecting the most appropriate starting point in a vocational education and training (VET) pathway is critical.

Conversations need to be held regularly with schools, TAFE NSW Institutes, other VET providers, universities, employment service providers and communities to ensure the necessary education, training, support services and employment opportunities are in place to assist Aboriginal students. The study suggests there is no specific pathway that is more effective than another in determining individual Aboriginal students’ success.

Successful students interviewed for the study followed varied pathways to reach their employment goals, although these could generally be categorised into two types of pathway groups:

• planned, linear pathways; or

• pathways that appeared to be exploratory, with students trying out different courses and changing career paths mid-way.

Regardless of the pathway taken, a number of successful Aboriginal students who started in a lower AQF level course, either as an orientation to TAFE and vocational study, or to consolidate their foundation skills, progressed to and completed a higher AQF level qualification over the six years of the study. For many of these Aboriginal students, an apprenticeship was their preferred outcome.

They wanted a practical ‘hands-on’ course with links to employment.

Factors contributing to success identified by successful students, regardless of the pathway taken, included:

• enrolment in courses where students were engaged and genuinely interested • the degree of fit with the learning environment

• the support and encouragement provided by teachers and other staff

• opportunities to gain on-the-job experience, which helped students to appreciate the real-world value of their study and transition to real work.


Students also identified barriers they faced. Issues such as the cost and lack of transport or travelling long distances, financial difficulties, personal issues and a lack of self-esteem and confidence in their academic ability impacted negatively on students.

Barriers specific to students’ Aboriginality included a perceived lack of Aboriginal-specific support or a low level of awareness that specific support services were available. It is important to provide a culturally safe environment that recognises the cultural diversity of all Aboriginal students.

Students ultimately wanted training to deliver jobs. This suggests additional work is needed on career planning to complete pathways for students, as well as more emphasis on collaboration between TAFE NSW, job service providers and employers.

Recommendations from this study are not necessarily new, however they are practical and, in combination, could be applicable to all training organisations. They are a useful reminder that barriers to Aboriginal student success have still not been overcome.

The challenge for training organisations such as TAFE NSW is to identify and implement strategies to overcome barriers and continuously evaluate their effectiveness in consultation with individuals and communities.


The recommendations fall under the following themes:

1. Improving Aboriginal VET programs.

The report recommends that all Aboriginal tertiary education programs should include:

• appropriate student orientation and induction sessions, including for returning students

• initial career and educational skills assessment to identify potential support needs (for example, LLN, study skills, digital literacy)

• mentoring and support services throughout the learning experience

• processes to monitor student attendance and engagement patterns to identify if additional support is needed

• links to employment and further study opportunities.

2. The report recommends that customised learning and career plans for Aboriginal students should be developed and trialled.

3. The report recommends that providers accessing public VET funding for Aboriginal students need to demonstrate that their organisations have:

• teachers with appropriate cultural competence to meet the education and training needs of Aboriginal people

• a record in providing appropriate support services

• strong liaison with the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG). Financial support and/or incentives

4. The report recommends that public funding for Aboriginal VET, as far as possible, includes additional funding to support links to employment, either through direct employment, internships, simulated or actual work experience. Further investigation

5. The report recommends that BVET commission further research to identify:

• the best models of pathway entry programs (foundation skills and lower level AQF courses) which enable Aboriginal students to progress to higher level AQF courses

• successful pathways by Aboriginal students from VET to higher education.


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