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The Aboriginal Independent Community Schools of Western Australia have worked collectively since 1989. They established the Aboriginal Independent Community Schools’ Support Unit in 1990 to support the independently managed Indigenous schools in Western Australia. This work continues and is administered through the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia from two locations - Perth and Broome. The Broome office staff provide “on the ground” support to the schools in the Kimberley and Pilbara/Great Sandy Desert, and the staff in Perth do the same for the AIC Schools located in the Goldfields, Murchison and Great Southern. Both offices work with schools on common initiatives, such as the Accelerated Literacy project, the AICS Numeracy Strategy, the teacher housing project for remote and regional AIC Schools and recruitment. They also provide advice to schools on matters concerning school governance, administration, compliance and quality standards, education policy developments and, at their request, seek funds for initiatives with the aim of increasing students’ access to quality and effective education resources. The AIC Schools’ Literacy Strategy is one such initiative.
The AIC Schools represent the diversity of Aboriginal communities in Western Australian. They include nine AIC Schools that provide the only access to education for their students in remote Kimberley, Pilbara, desert and Goldfields communities. A further three provide boarding and training opportunities for students from remote communities and towns.
The students and the AIC Schools they attend can be categorised as those “most in need” in the Australian independent school landscape. They share four common sources of educational disadvantage:
- lack of English language proficiency;
- low socio economic status.
The AIC Schools believe that a commitment to equity means that differences in educational outcomes should not be the result of differences in wealth, power, possessions or location.