Explore AECG’s History
An Aboriginal Community controlled, independent and not-for-profit advocacy group.
The NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) began in 1977 as a committee of Aboriginal people invited by the Department of Education to advise it on Aboriginal Education.
In 1977 the Commonwealth Schools Commission provided funds for States and Territories to seek Aboriginal advice on education. Over the next three years, the NSW Department of Education invited Aboriginal people from across New South Wales to serve on its Aboriginal advisory committee.
When the Commonwealth stopped funding in 1980, the New South Wales government took over funding the committee. At the same time the members of the committee decided that representatives should be elected from all regions in NSW, to serve for two years.
In 1981 the Minister for Education, the Hon. Paul Landa, formally recognized the NSW AECG as the principal advisory body on Aboriginal Education. All Ministers since have continued this recognition.
In 1982, the NSW AECG further extended its policy of involving Aboriginal people in education decision-making by fostering the development of local AECGS.
Also in 1982, the NSW AECG was instrumental in the development of the NSW Department of Education’s Aboriginal Education Policy. This was the first Policy of its kind in Australia.
In 1983 at the Newcastle triennial meeting, it was decided to increase the length of service of representatives from two (2) to three (3) years.
Since the policy’s development, the NSW AECG, through a number of conferences, had developed a series of priority areas in an attempt to rapidly implement the policy and to gain other improvements in Aboriginal Education generally.
In 1984 the NSW AECG established an Executive committee to assist with the policy implementation within the framework of its aims and objectives.
The 1986 Triennial conference held in Dubbo saw significant developments take place:
- The council structure was formulated and the rules of operation were determined.
- The 1986 – 1989 new priorities were established
- The NSW AECG undertook the “1986 Survey of Drug and Alcohol Use by Aboriginal students in NSW”. This project was highly successful and the results widely distributed.
1988 has seen the establishment of an incorporated body to be known as the NSW AECG Association Incorporated.
NSW Aboriginal Education History
Before the invasion there was Aboriginal holistic, whole-of-life, community-based education all over Australia.
Native institution – dormitory (lock-in) school – set up at Parramatta by governor Macquarie.
Aboriginal girl from Native Institution came first in Anniversary Schools Examination, ahead of 20 Aboriginal and 100 white pupils.
Native Institution closed to as too expensive; pupils moved to the Blacktown settlement – this was closed 1830.
NSW Board of National Education decided it was “impractical to provide any form of educational for the children of the blacks”.
Some Aboriginal children were enrolled in schools in some areas.
Department of Public Instruction formed. About 200 Aboriginal children enrolled in public schools.
White parents at Yass objected to the attendance of Aboriginal children at the public school, withdrew their children until the Aboriginal students were excluded. Department’s policy became dependent on local attitudes: “…no child whatever its creed or colour or circumstances ought to be excluded from a public school. But cases may arise, especially amongst the Aboriginal tribes, where the admission of a child or children may be prejudicial to the whole school.” – George Reid, Minister for Education, 1883.
Aborigines Protection Board (APB) began setting up Aboriginal reserves “at the sufficient distance from towns to reduce contact with white society to a minimum”. ‘Mission’ schools, with the untrained teachers (mostly Managers’ wives) were set up on reserves: 13 Aboriginal schools by 1900, 40 by 1930. In many areas Aboriginal children who were excluded from public schools had no other for of schooling – ‘Aboriginal’ (‘mission’ or reserve) schools were only set up where there were sufficient numbers to justify the expense.
Aborigines Protection Act gave APB legal control of Aboriginal people, and power to remove children who were judged to be ‘neglected’.
Assimilation Policy – “to facilitate the absorption of Aboriginal people into the general population”. Governments began to encourage the admission of Aboriginal students to public schools – depended on local white attitudes.
APB replaced by Aborigines Welfare Board. Department of Education began to provide trained teachers for reserve schools. ‘Aboriginal’ schools now provided education beyond Grade 3.
“Children of any Aborigine securing an Exemption Certificate are to be admitted to the ordinary public school.” – Education Gazette
But between 1946 and 1948 Aboriginal Children required a medical certificate to attend public schools. Gradually more schools enrolled aboriginal children. However, it was still possible to exclude them on the grounds of “home conditions” or of “substantial community oppositions”.
It is the policy of the department to encourage the assimilation of Aboriginal children as members of the Australian community by permitting their attendance at public schools. Nevertheless, if the principal of the school is of the opinion that there is circumstances in the home conditions of the Aboriginal children, whose enrolment is sought, which justify refusal or deferral of enrolment, or if he is aware of substantial opposition to such enrollments exists, he should inform the district inspector of schools and await the Departmental decision on the matter. – NSW Department of Education regulation
First Aboriginal university graduates: Bill Jonas, Charles Perkins, and Margaret Valadian.
NSW Teachers Federation survey: 9% of Aboriginal students progressed beyond year 9; 58% classed as ‘Slow Learners’.
Assimilation Policy replaced by Integration – Aboriginal people now seen as entering Australian society on their own terms and preserving as much of their culture as they choose.
Commonwealth Referendum: full citizen rights, Commonwealth power to make laws on their behalf, now to counted in the census.
Commonwealth Secondary Grants for all students beyond school leaving age. 3 Aboriginal HSC students in NSW.
Second NSW Teachers Federation Survey: 27% of the Aboriginal students now reach Year 10; 38% now classed as ‘slow learners’. First Aboriginal Teacher Aides (ATAs) appointed at Weilmoringle and Enngonia.
Director-General deletes regulation in Teachers Handbook giving Principals the right to refuse to enroll Aboriginal children on the grounds of “home conditions” or “substantial community opposition”. Commonwealth Aboriginal policy of self-determination.
Secondary Grants for all Aboriginal secondary students.
Commonwealth took over the responsibilities for funding Aboriginal Education. 60 Aboriginal Teachers’ Aides (ATAs) appointed to NSW schools.
Aboriginal Education Advisory Groups formed in States and Territories. National Aboriginal Education committee (NAEC) formed.
NSW Aboriginal Education Advisory Group re-forms as NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, representing communities statewide.
AECG President appointed to NSW Education commission. Aboriginal secondary retention rate 6.4%.
NSW Minister for Education recognized NSW AECG as a principal source of advice to the government on Aboriginal Education. NAEC launches campaign to train 1000 Aboriginal teachers by 1990.
NSW Aboriginal Education Policy – developed in consultation with the AECG and first in Australia. Aboriginal Student Support Enclaves in 3 Colleges of Advanced Education.
Aboriginal Rural Education Program (AREP) teacher training program at the Milperra CAE (now UWS Macarthur).
Regional Consultants in Aboriginal Education appointed in most regions.
AECG survey finds high proportion of Aboriginal primary students placed in ‘IM’ classes. Department of Education starts Aboriginal Early Language Development Program (AELDP).
Aboriginal Education Policy made mandatory for all schools. Aboriginal Education Officers (Aboriginal Community Support) appointed to the Home School Liaison Program – but not in all Regions.
Commonwealth appoints Aboriginal Task Force to produce National Aboriginal Education policy. Report recommends reform of education. NAEC disbanded.
National Aboriginal Education Policy, based on 3-year agreements of commonwealth (DEET) and education providers, including State systems, on agreed principles – 21 Long Term Goals. Regional Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers (RACLOS’s) appointed – statement of duties includes support of NSW AECG.
First triennium of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education policy (NATSIEP) implemented.
National Federation of AECG’s established to provide national level advice on Aboriginal Education. NSW HSC Aboriginal Studies syllabus introduced in 13 schools.
NSW Minister gives Chair and administration of NSW NATSIEP Coordinating Committee to NSW AECG Inc – Aboriginal Direction of strategic planning process. Commonwealth Reconciliation and Schooling Strategy University of New South Wales ‘Teaching the Teachers’ project – to develop model core Aboriginal Studies subject for primary student teachers. NSW AECG Inc Joint Principal Consultant to the project.
International Year for the worlds Indigenous People. President of AECG appointed to NSW Board of Studies. World Indigenous People Conference: Education at Wollongong.
‘Invasion’ debate in Sydney media. Year’s 7-10 Aboriginal Studies syllabus launched at NSW AECG. AECG President appointed to NSW Board of Studies and to the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. Commonwealth Review of AEP report released. MCEETYA Aboriginal Taskforce to produce ‘national strategy for the education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’.
Commonwealth Response to AEP Review Launched at NSW AECG – both Commonwealth and States promise extra $215 million for Aboriginal Education over 4 years.
NSW Department of School Education’s second Aboriginal Education policy is launched at NSW AECG Inc Annual General Meeting. Written in conjunction with the NSW AECG Inc. Aboriginal students in NSW public schools, make up 12 to 18% of the suspended or excluded student population despite being only 3% of the total student population. World Indigenous People’s Conference: Education in Albuquerque New Mexico.