The Connected Communities difference
It gives a school a different leadership structure and focuses strongly on Aboriginal culture and language.
Each school has:
- a Local School Reference Group
- an Executive Principal
- a Senior Leader Community Engagement
- Aboriginal cultural learning
- Healing and Wellbeing
Local School Reference Group
The Local School Reference Group:
- is a link between the school and the parts of the community they each represent
- with the school, co-leads and co-designs programs for the school
- Knows the profile of the community and uses this to design programs.
- is chaired by the president of the local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG)
- members include
- local Elders
- the Executive Principal
- key community members
- the P&C (where there is one).
- invites government and non-government representatives to attend at appropriate times.
The Executive Principal is the highest level of principalship in the state. The role differs to that of a general NSW public school principal because the position requires greater work and collaboration with government and non-government groups in the customised designing and delivery of services to individual students, as well as working consistently and productively with the community, and in particular with the school’s Local School Reference Group.
Senior Leader Community Engagement
This position supports the implementation of strategic initiatives and programs in Connected Communities schools, and provides a communication conduit between the school, Aboriginal families, local agencies and the community.
Their role is to:
- Assist the Executive Principal in the implementation of the Connected Communities Strategy in the school and provide a vital link between the school and the local Aboriginal community.
- Take a leadership role with staff and community members in implementing the Connected Communities Strategy.
- Provide strategic advice to the Executive Principal on issues related to Aboriginal students, their families and the community regarding education and training for Aboriginal students.
- Work in collaboration with the local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group in developing plans and processes for the teaching of Aboriginal languages and culture nests.
- Collaborate with key school personnel, the Aboriginal community and the wider community in the implementation and monitoring of strategic initiatives in the school.
- Collaborate with members of other government departments and agencies on relevant Connected Communities policies and initiatives within the school.
Aboriginal culture learning
All Connected Communities schools engage in the local Aboriginal culture – including participation in the local NSW AECG’s Connecting to Country program.
Healing and Wellbeing
Recognising the impacts of intergenerational trauma, supporting and respecting community healing processes is an important part of the Connected Communities strategy and the work undertaken by schools that implement it. A key way the strategy contributes to addressing intergenerational trauma for Aboriginal students, their families and their communities is through the Healing and Wellbeing model. The model resources professional training and support to school staff on trauma informed approaches. It also supports opportunities for local Aboriginal community members to engage in programs that support their healing journey, while broadening their knowledge and skill base in counselling and youth work.
Through the Healing and Wellbeing model, Connected Communities schools have been able to accommodate health and other paraprofessionals to operate out of their school to support families and carers to navigate complex systems, and help students gain access to appropriate services and resources. This has enabled families to more readily access services for children within the school setting, which they find to be familiar, convenient and safe. Some examples of service delivery include occupational therapy, speech pathology, family support services, social work and early intervention (vision, behaviour and autism).