January 15, 2020 |Blog

What does the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration say about wellbeing?


The Australian Education Ministers endorsed the newly released Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians in December last year.

It builds on previous declarations, in providing guidance to Australian educators to meet the needs of young Australians, in both our national and global contexts. What’s different about it, especially regarding wellbeing?

As the title of the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration suggests, it features enhanced recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as integral to our story, with focuses on working towards improved educational outcomes, and also on ensuring that all Australian students learn about the diversity of First Nations peoples’ cultures.

Peer Support Australia is pleased to observe that the new Declaration recognises the developmental nature of growth and learning, and prioritises a number of skills and dispositions not previously acknowledged at this level. One of its two goals is that “all young Australians become confident and creative individuals, successful lifelong learners, and active and informed members of the community.” To this end, it identifies as desirable such pro-social skills such as change management and creation, adaptability to new ways of thinking and the ability to engage in respectful debate.

The Declaration acknowledges the importance for young people of a sense of belonging, purpose and meaning, and of having empathy for the circumstances of others. It has an expanded emphasis on the importance of supporting effective transitions throughout the education process, as well as on enhancing middle years development. Peer Support Australia welcomes these features of the Declaration, particularly the explicit recognition that the middle years in particular require investment in emotional wellbeing, and that “developing healthy peer relationships should be encouraged, including a focus on student engagement and wellbeing.”

We look forward to continuing to work with Australian schools in the context of the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration, with its affirmation of so many of the principles which have long been central to our work.

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