A Student at the CYGA

EP 13 Cultural Considerations | Teaching Indigenous Students

“I can say that we are a fairly unique situation here at Girl Academy. We’re offering opportunities for students to learn more about their first languages. We’re offering more opportunities for students to be exposed to the diversity and interwoven layers of Indigenous communities …The teachers here are really mindful of our students’ cultures … so that we can help them build upon their knowledge of their own traditional culture.” – Baressa Frazer.

How can educators best support Indigenous students in their learning environments? What unique considerations can be taken into account whilst educating Indigenous students? What does it mean to “be shame”?
For educators all across Australia, these are important questions to reflect upon. As these questions guide the daily teaching practices of the Cape York Girl Academy staff, we believe that their perspectives and experiences can offer a lot to other teachers.


We speak with Baressa Frazer, Madeleine Boyd and Catalina Bejarano-Sanchez – three teachers with real-time experience in educating Indigenous students. Baressa is the former principle of the Cape York Girl Academy and current principle of Aurukun State School. Madeleine and Catalina are currently teaching at the Cape York Girl Academy.

Madeleine and Catalina explain how they have adapted their teaching practices to account for the needs of Indigenous students. They talk about the differences between educating Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. They also explain the concept of cultural safety.

Baressa speaks from her perspective as an Indigenous person about what the ‘shame factor’ is. She also outlines how it plays a harmful and obstructive role in Indigenous lives. All three guests speak about how they have avoided putting their students in a position where they may feel shame.

We speak about trauma-informed approaches to teaching and meeting the students’ wellbeing needs to ensure they feel most able to learn.

We also talk about how the Cape York Girl Academy has included traditional ways of learning into its teaching practices. Madeleine and Catalina speak about how they, as non-Indigenous teachers, are continually engaging in professional development that focusses on knowledge of culture.

We conclude by addressing the key things that other educators around Australia could learn from the Girl Academy’s experience. Madeleine, Cataline and Baressa also share some heart-warming stories concerning the positive development of their students.

Thank you for taking the time to listen.

Have you listened to episode 5 of Time to Listen, wherein we introduce the Cape York Girl Academy? You can find it .



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