What are we trying to achieve?
The aim of the Solid Kids, Solid Schools project is to understand the prevention, reduction and management of bullying and aggression in the Aboriginal context and to help schools to implement guidelines and practices to prevent, reduce and manage bullying in the school.
The school needs to develop a solid vision of what it wants to achieve. Some examples could be:
‘Our solid vision is to create an environment where everyone treats each other with respect’.
‘We have a supportive and safe environment for all school community members’.
For interventions to be successful it is important to understand that bullying is a relationship issue; schools need to address relationships and social skills.
Schools have an obligation to keep all children safe and to provide a nurturing environment for all children who attend. If schools do not have structures in place to support Aboriginal students, they are likely to perpetuate the institutionalised racism that Aboriginal community members expect to feel and see in the educational environment. This is possible when school – community links are established with Aboriginal community members of strong standing, such as Elders (Coffin, no date).
Aboriginal worldviews encompass societal, cultural, spiritual, customary, health, educational and familial knowledge and traditions. When embedded within educational environments, Aboriginal worldviews lead to:
- organisational frameworks that are consistent with the values and expectations of Aboriginal students and their families
- culturally inclusive teaching, learning and assessment practises
- curriculum content and delivery
- environments that are culturally and community inclusive
- employment of Aboriginal staff
- a model for reframing individual cultural frameworks
Whether Aboriginal children live in urban, rural or remote locations, they identify with varying aspects of their Aboriginal culture. Identity is personal and evolves as individuals grow (Howard, 2001).
Education systems must provide culturally secure guidelines so that staff can respond to the strengths and needs of Aboriginal students involved in bullying (Paki, no date). Positive outcomes can be achieved in schools where there is a genuine desire to establish meaningful partnerships with the Aboriginal community (Paki, no date). There is a lack of acknowledgement in the education sector of the importance of Aboriginal culture in the lives of Aboriginal students and their families. This is reflected in:
- poor management of bullying behaviour among Aboriginal students
- lack of staff awareness and interest in Aboriginal culture
- negative attitude of some teachers towards Aboriginal students
- lack of empowerment for AIEOs in behaviour management
- lack of recognition of cultural diversity in many schools
- lack of Aboriginal family engagement in many schools
- poor management of racism issues in schools (Paki, no date)