Aboriginal affairs

Bob builds a foundation for indigenous teaching

The construction of the new Bob Hawke College is currently underway in the centre of one of Perth’s most iconic inner city suburbs.

Scaffolding borders Subiaco Road. Photo: Amy Johnston.

Following the opening of the college, a statewide teacher program in WA will be established to increase the number of Aboriginal teachers.

This will include one undergraduate and one postgraduate scholarship awarded to two aspiring Aboriginal secondary school teachers.

These scholarships also provide permanent placement at a public secondary school in WA.

ECU Cultural Indigenous Professor Robert Somerville said the teaching scholarships provide a wonderful opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“I think any support that help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through university and allow them to access a teaching position after university is just wonderful and there should be more of it,” he said.

Construction is well underway at the end of Subiaco Road. Photo: Amy Johnston.

“Bob Hawke is held in respect by most Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people, the name of the college is very appropriate and the two scholarships offered continues to further the work Bob Hawke is remembered for.”

In a media statement WA Premier Mark McGowan said Bob Hawke was one of the greatest Australians in history – establishing a scholarship in his name for Aboriginal teachers was a fitting tribute.

Mr Somerville thinks the name of the school will mean an enormous amount to the Indigenous community across WA.

“There is no doubt particularly with Noongar people that they want to teach in their own country.

“Noongar country is the Perth metropolitan area and south-west regions which are all very attractive to a range of other teachers so it is very difficult to get a position within their own country.

“There is absolutely no doubt that Bob Hawke was absolutely committed to reconciliation and doing something for Aboriginal people.”

Subiaco Mayor Penny Taylor said she is looking forward to the Bob Hawke College opening next year as it will offer an important addition to the Subiaco community.

“The Subiaco Oval precinct is an ideal location for the school,” she said.

“It will provide vibrancy to our already thriving community.

“The site has a long and celebrated sporting, cultural and Indigenous history and we are pleased to see this incorporated in the school’s programs and ethos.”

Demolition of the historic Subiaco football ground is now underway. Photo: Amy Johnston.

Senior Project Officer for the Department of Education David Muir is pleased with the progress of the school’s construction.

“The school is set to open in January 2020 and the buildings will be delivered in time for that opening,” he said.

“The biggest benefit from the Department of Education’s view is providing much needed relief to the other schools in the area, being Shenton College and Churchlands High School.

“The project is going really well and we think it will have great benefits to the Subiaco community.”

Depiction of Bob Hawke College in 2020: Image: WA Government.