Attending school & completing school

Back to school

Maybe you’ve always wanted to work as a teacher but you didn’t like the idea of going to university? There is another way – why not become an Aboriginal education assistant?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education assistants, teachers’ assistants or education workers are responsible for providing support to students, teachers and the community. It’s a job that brings a lot of satisfaction, especially with the knowledge that you’re helping our kids to gain a better education, which can only be a good thing for our future.

The job involves an awful lot more than just helping the teacher out in the classroom, as Aboriginal Islander education worker (AIEW) Diane Ambyrum can attest. She’s been working in this field for the past 13 years, and absolutely loves her job.

“I do a bit of everything,” Diane laughs. “I work in the office, help out kids who are having a problem with their spelling, make home visits to encourage parents to become more involved with the school, drive kids to their doctor’s appointment. It’s certainly never boring!”

Diane works at Anula Primary School in Darwin, and ‘Aunty Di’ is loved by all the students – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Her work has certainly made a difference in more ways than one.

“I recently wrote a submission to the local bakery, telling them about the kids that come to school without any lunch, and they now donate bread to three schools in the area,” Diane says. “You can’t learn on an empty stomach!

“I also work with the tutors, and make sure that they reward kids who have improved. If the kids know that they’ll be rewarded for good work, they try harder.”

Diane’s office is a haven for the students; she even recently set up a karaoke machine for them.

“It’s a way of bringing all the students together,” she says. “I even get ex-students here who still visit me for advice or just a shoulder to cry on.”

Diane firmly believes that becoming an AIEW was the best thing that she could have done. If you think you’d like to make the kind of difference that Diane does to our kids’ lives, why not find out about courses that are offered in your area?

TAFE NSW currently offers Certificate I, II and III in Aboriginal Education Assistants at several campuses across the State.

Queensland TAFE offers courses at several locations for Certificate III and IV in Education (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander).

Western Australia’s Swan TAFE offers both the Certificate III in Teacher Assistant (Indigenous) and the Certificate IV in Teacher Assistant (Indigenous).

The Northern Territory Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education offers a Certificate III and IV in Indigenous Education Work.

To find out if you’re eligible, or what you need to do to become eligible, go to,, or

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