E19 (part 2 of 2) Engaging Indigenous Students in VET | Djarragun College’s VET program

The National Centre for Vocational Education and Research has published its student equity in VET data tables. It revealed an eleven percentage point gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous completion rates of VET qualifications.

In their report, Indigenous Participation in VET: Understanding the Research, NCVER revealed that the VET sector needed to improve and adapt to better engage Indigenous students with VET. More successful engagement, they said, is built on community ownership, genuine partnerships with communities, respect for cultural knowledge and local capabilities, integration of cultural knowledge into training, and alignment of education and training with aspirations and, in the case of remote areas, local employment opportunities.

So what if educational institutions designed and delivered VET programmes with cultural awareness accompanied with a likelihood of employment in the communities students plan on returning to?

Introducing Djarragun College's  Academies of Excellence - a recent and profound innovation providing VET learning and qualifications to its predominantly Indigenous student body.


In part two of this episode of Time to Listen we speak with Mandy Ross, Djarragun's Dean of Academies of Excellence and Noel Mason, Djarragun's Dean of Academy of Creative and Performing Arts.

"To improve the attraction and retention of our Indigenous students in VET programmes it really is all about the cultural connections. It starts at the beginning when the students are being informed about the VET opportunities or the courses that are available to them. We need to see Indigenous people in the marketing material. We need to see them and we need to hear their voices. When students are watching a clip with Indigenous people, they will sometimes know them and immediately the engagement goes off the scale. It's a relative or, you know, someone even closer to them that they know from their own community. And it's very exciting to watch the engagement. They also need the face to face contact from Indigenous people who are working in those areas. So here at Djarragun, we try to take the students out at least once a term to industry and connect with Indigenous people working in those areas. We have made connections with a couple of employers in the Cairns community and they do provide time for their Indigenous staff to come in and speak to our students and we really appreciate that. They're the sort of experiences that our kids need to keep involved and be reminded that the end goal is is really worth it," says Mandy, Djarragun's Dean of Academies of Excellence.

Thank you for taking the time to listen.


Find the NCVER data here: Student equity in VET: participation, achievement and outcomes (
Find their report Indigenous Participation in VET: Understanding the Research here: Indigenous participation in VET: understanding the research (

Find out more about Djarragun College here: Djarragun College - Cape York Partnership

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