BCE empowering students through First Nations languages, astronomy, and wisdom


​©Brisbane Catholic Education, St Francis College, Crestmead (2024).​

From collaborating with community to cultivate bush tukka gardens to learning First Nations languages and astronomy, BCE’s 77,000 students are ready to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of First Nations cultures and histories this Harmony Week (18 to 24 March). 
In 2024, BCE's 146 schools have embraced the integration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into their curriculum after the launch of the Molum Sabe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy 2023-2025 last year. 
Aligned with the Australian Curriculum, the strategy aims to foster cultural understanding and growth among BCE staff and students, while addressing learning achievements and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Senior Manager Dr Mayrah Dreise said the strategy is paving the way for enhanced engagement, progress, achievement and overall wellbeing among First Nation students. 
“Using a holistic approach, the new strategy focuses around educating all students about First Nations histories, cultures, identities, and languages,” said the proud Gamilaraay and Yuwalaraay woman from Southwest Queensland and Northwest New South Wales. 
“The former strategy focused on improving literacy and numeracy outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and this new strategy takes this innovative approach one step further by intertwining the rich tapestry of First Nations cultures, histories, and spirituality to help nurture belonging and pride among students. 
“By enhancing our Molum Sabe strategy, BCE aims to create an education that is not only academic but also culturally relevant and sensitive. 
“One distinctive aspect of the Molum Sabe Strategy is the Theory of Action, which centres around student learning, engaging and creating a supportive network around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. 
“The Theory of Action acknowledges the significance of collaboration and guidance from external experts, ensuring that the support provided is well-informed and rooted in current research. 
Dr Dreise said the strategy also supports BCE schools to teach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in a context which makes sense to their community. 
“With the support of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) BCE students will also enjoy lessons about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander astronomy,” she said. 
“Western astronomy focuses on the stars and constellations, whereas Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander astronomy has also focused on recognising the dark spots in the sky. 
“These constellations were used for tracking, travel, dreaming trails, and connecting with dreaming stories for thousands of years, and it is important our students learn this information so they can own and celebrate this knowledge as a part of Australia’s long and rich history. 
“BCE’s Ngutana Lui Centre will also work with BCE schools to create their own bush tukka gardens, educating students about First Nations seasonal plant use.” 
Dr Dreise added this strategy will also extend beyond the classroom. 
Molum Sabe supports the implementation of key actions within the Brisbane Catholic Education Reconciliation Action Plan, including the promotion of Reconciliation Australia’s Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Education program, encouraging schools to develop their own RAPs via the Narragunnawali platform,” she said.  
“BCE will continue to foster learning environments that cherish and uplift the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and encourages First Nations students to achieve their full learning potential.” 
As part of the new strategy, BCE teachers now have access to resources which will help them embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into the curriculum. 
BCE teachers also have access to cultural awareness training and cultural safety training at the Ngutana-Lui Centre, enhancing staff understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories to create culturally safe and empowering environments. 
In 2023, 141 BCE schools developed their school Reconciliation Action Plan and are registered on the Reconciliation Australia's Narragunnawali Platform.  
BCE aims for 146 schools to have a Reconciliation Action Plan by the end of 2024.   


About Harmony Week: 


Harmony Week (18 to 24 March) is a time to celebrate diversity and consider the many benefits gained from having culturally and linguistically diverse communities. 
It is important to acknowledge that Harmony Day (21 March) is marked by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which encourages us to challenge racism and take action to create meaningful change.   
The 21 March is also National Close the Gap Day. 
About National Close the Gap Day:  

National Close the Gap (21 March) Day aims to bring people together to share information and take meaningful action in support of achieving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples by 2032. 

Top stories