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19 June 2020

An open letter on equity & TFA’s commitment

An open letter from Teach For Australia CEO, Melodie Potts Rosevear

At Teach For Australia, our vision has always centred on ensuring a quality education that gives all children, regardless of background, greater choice in authoring their lives. We have always believed that an empowering education can open doors to opportunities and worlds never before imagined, and certainly never before in reach. We have always believed in the potential within every child and that circumstances of postcode and privilege shouldn’t determine their future.

It took a brutal death in my mother country of America – the latest stain of many – to catalyse a groundswell of awareness and reflection here at home in Australia regarding the inequities in our own society. Like many individuals and organisations around the world in recent weeks, Teach For Australia is also deepening our understanding of what education alone – as it exists today – can’t do. It can’t overcome systems which chronically disadvantage and discriminate – in obvious as well as insidious ways – some groups over another.  And for no group in Australia is systemic racism more profound and more limiting than for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

We should welcome this groundswell, which has at its heart a hope for truth followed by action. Truth about our history as a nation, about the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and about the effects of those experiences on their past, present and future. Listening to and learning from that truth – however discomforting and confronting it may be – must be followed by action. Every individual and every leader in our society owes our collective soul that much.

For my part as a leader, as Founder and CEO of Teach For Australia, I want to ensure we are always cognisant to the hard questions the core of our vision and mission demand. Namely, how well we are listening to and serving the needs of our most vulnerable –  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children – through our work with teachers, leaders, schools and communities.

My writing skills feel insufficient to convey the depth of reflection that is occurring – for myself and across the organisation. So let me simply say this as a starting point today: I am committed to Reconciliation. Teach for Australia is committed to Reconciliation. We are committed to always learning, and to acting.

Our journey towards Reconciliation at TFA is already underway. We began our first formal Reconciliation work last year (you can find our RAP Action Plan here) and have engaged in a number of learning and outreach actions at programmatic and organisational levels.   

But moments in time such as these serve as wake up calls, asking us: is there more we can be doing? And as an organisation committed to equity for all children, and most crucially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, the honest reply has to be ‘Yes, we can do more’. And so, the task before us now is to identify further meaningful action we can take to deepen our commitment to Reconciliation and better serve those children. We must not let any shift in wider momentum become a snooze button to our efforts.

We are taking stock as a collective now, and I promise to share our active commitments to keep this momentum and focus alive within our work at Teach For Australia.

The work of education is that of nation building, and we must build it alongside our First Peoples.

Only then will all children be truly served.

Melodie Potts Rosevear

CEO