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Northern Institute

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Young Aboriginal student

Increasing the Numbers of Aboriginal Teachers in the NT 

Timeline: 12-month project (2024)
Funding: 2024 ACSES Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success

The low number of Aboriginal school teachers is a critical issue in the Northern Territory (NT), which has the highest percentage of Aboriginal students in Australia. Many Aboriginal students are reported to achieve below expected standards, yet evidence suggests increasing the number of Aboriginal teachers may improve educational success for these students. 

This 12-month project will take a two-part approach to investigate teaching as a career of choice for Aboriginal people in the NT; first, by understanding the aspirations of Aboriginal senior secondary students to become teachers, and second, by utilising the recommendations of current Aboriginal teachers about how to promote teaching to other Aboriginal Territorians. This aligns with the Federal Government’s ‘Be That Teacher’ campaign, which showcases the value and importance of teachers and encourages Australians to consider a teaching career. This research can assist providers in empowering Australian First Nations people to become teachers and improve educational outcomes for First Nations students, changing Australian deficit discourse about Indigenous education.

This research follows from work from the HEPPP project Pathways into Teaching for First Nations Students


  • Understand what Aboriginal students think about teaching as a future career.
  • Identify barriers to becoming a teacher in the Northern Territory.
  • Increase the number of Aboriginal teachers and improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Survey answers will be collected to make informed recommendations to governments and education providers and develop resources (such as posters or videos) to inspire more Aboriginal people to become teachers. 

In-School Student Survey

This online survey is currently being distributed to Aboriginal senior secondary students in Government schools across the Northern Territory. Students are asked questions about their school and community and their thoughts about teaching as a career. The survey will close on 30th April 2024. 

If you know a 16+ Aboriginal student in secondary school, please inform them about the survey or if you are a teacher at a secondary school, check with the principal to see whether students at your school have received the survey yet. 

Find the survey and more information here.

a young Aboriginal secondary student scratches his head



Dr Tracy Woodroffe

Dr Tracy Woodroffe is a local Warumungu Luritja educator with extensive teaching experience and an Early Career Researcher with a growing track record. Dr Woodroffe is the lead researcher for this 12-month project. Her research experience and focus are educational pedagogy, identity, Indigenous perspectives, and the use of Indigenous Knowledges in educational contexts. Dr Woodroffe has been both a team member and the lead on numerous successful research projects, which can be seen on her CDU profile. Past research has included research with and within the NT Department of Education.

Previous Features

AIKUMA PROJECT - Professor Steven Bird

Language Parties - Celebrating languages through storytelling.

Language Parties are a fresh and intimate style of gathering that celebrates the sea of languages spoken in our cities, towns, and neighbourhoods. The host welcomes everyone and invites people to 'listen to appreciate'. This is language as art, music and spoken soul. Storytellers greet the audience in their mother tongue and teach the audience how to respond in the same language. Then storytellers share a story in the original language before interpreting it into the common language. Later, storytellers return to the stage, and we hear about their experience of keeping their languages strong.

Language Party Storytellers at event


Professor Steven Bird says, "Ten years ago, my research group developed the Aikuma app for recording and translating stories in indigenous languages. We trialled it in Melanesia, Amazonia, and South Asia. Excited by the promise of the technology, I took it to San Francisco and visited all the big tech companies looking for angel investors. I was unsuccessful, but I found three allies, and we went on a 6-month journey of reflection, leading us to the question: 'How do we create a world that sustains its languages?' We came to the realisation that language loss is a social problem that is not solved by a 'killer app'. We thought it might have more to do with the relative prestige of languages, so we devised a storytelling format now known as Language Parties. There have been 21 Language Parties in 6 countries, featuring 135 storytellers speaking 73 languages, including many First Nations storytellers. In 2019, we held Language Parties in 5 Australian states and territories with sponsorship from the Aesop Foundation. COVID-19 stopped us in our tracks. Post-referendum, we believe that First Nations storytelling and truthtelling is more important than ever, and we believe that Language Parties offer a way of setting up safe spaces for mainstream audiences to listen to Indigenous voices."


Language Party 2024 Report Cover

2024 Report

"The publication of our report represents a new milestone for us in bringing Language Parties back, and promoting them across Australia and internationally."

View the report here.


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