Making a difference in the desert 

ICC Alice Springs 3 July workshop: Anne Davis, BITTE, David Reilly, CDU, Lynn Ritchie, CARHDS, Brenda Duffy, DEH, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

The Central Australian Education and Training Network is a Community of Practice operating across Central Australia that is developing ways of working both within and between providers that aim to improve outcomes for stakeholders with an interest in Indigenous education.

This Community of Practice Project is funded by Reframing the Future, one of four being undertaken at Charles Darwin University (CDU) in 2006. The project commenced in May of this year and its key outcomes will be presented at a showcase in Sydney at the end of November.

The project is being led by Alicia Boyle, Education Coordinator, Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre based at CDU, facilitated by Paul Fitzsimons, CDU’s Director of Remote Area Operations and administrative support is provided by Tanya Wooley from Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE).

The aim of the project is to build on and exchange knowledge so as to develop members’ capabilities to ensure provision of Indigenous demand-responsive education and training whilst operating within new Commonwealth governance arrangements including Indigenous Coordination Centres, Shared Responsibility Agreements, and with regard to changes to the Community Development Employment Program, Remote Area Exemptions and the Job Network.

Participants in the project include individuals from CDU, BIITE, Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), Central Australian Remote Health Development Services (CARHDS), Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi, Alice Springs Indigenous Coordination Centre (OIPC), NT Correctional Centre Alice Springs, Desart, Greening Australia, Tangentyere, ITEC Employment Services, Hanson Training, Footprints Forward, Department of Environment and Heritage, CHARTTES TAC, Service Industries TAC, NT DEET Education and Training and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre (DK-CRC). Monthly meetings of project members are held in Alice Springs and a shared information and resource webspace is hosted on the DK-CRC intranet.

The Central Australian Education and Training Network is exploring opportunities for learning about improving and innovating service delivery by looking both within and between provider members for new ways of doing such things as:

  • Managing and administering service delivery for such things as reduced duplication of service delivery, staff recruitment, professional development and retention;
  • Providing improved pathways for completing qualifications, including higher level qualifications and across provider opportunities;
  • Investigating alternative strategies for learning and assessment in remote locations considering such things as literacy and numeracy levels, distance, student numbers, attendance, community support capacity – physical and human;
  • Collaboration with Indigenous Coordination Centres (ICCs);
  • Collaboration with Indigenous communities through their journey of developing Shared Responsibility Agreements (SRAs);
  • Developing partnerships with Job Network providers; and,
  • Collaboration with industries offering livelihood opportunities in Indigenous communities.

Monthly, guest speakers are invited to inform participants about their specific roles and responsibilities and provide opportunities to uncover ways that the Network could work more closely with their respective organisations. In addition, the Network has developed a matrix of all accredited and non-accredited training conducted in Central Australia by location and created a register of training facilities and accommodation available in Aboriginal communities across the central desert. Next step is to work with those organizations conducting skills audits and undertaking community development planning to explore ways of better aligning education and training services with identified individual and community needs.

“What we want to do is work towards better delivery of education and training in Central Australia—remove duplications of service and/or neglect of service—the prime idea of the group is to avoid these and look at cooperation” said Paul Fitzsimons, Director, Remote Operations, CDU.

Andre Burgess, Senior Deputy Director of the Indigenous Coordination Centre in Alice Springs said at a recent meeting “…from a government perspective, what you are doing here is great.”

For further information contact:

Alicia Boyle
Education Coordinator, Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre
Charles Darwin University
Phone: 08 8946 7267


Paul Fitzsimons
Director, Remote Operations, Charles Darwin University
Phone: 08 8959 5400

For any queries about community engagement please contact Linda Cuttriss, Coordinator Community Engagement, on 08 8946 6336 or