Aboriginal educator Kayla White says challenges faced by Indigenous youths must be addressed

Passionate teacher: Camden Haven High School Aboriginal education co-ordinator Kayla White.

Passionate teacher: Camden Haven High School Aboriginal education co-ordinator Kayla White.

Camden Haven High School Aboriginal education co-ordinator Kayla White is calling for an increased Aboriginal presence in schools to help overcome the challenges faced by Indigenous children.

Mrs White is a proud Indigenous woman and is raising six children, who she hopes will be valued and treated as equals.

On Monday, July 27 the nation's top law officials put off a decision regarding raising the age of criminal responsibility.

Currently, children as young as 10-years-old can continue to be arrested, charged and detained.

According to Amnesty International Australia, in the last 12 months nearly 600 children aged between 10 and 13 were put behind bars.

The human rights organisation reported two-thirds of imprisoned children are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Along with activists, lawyers and health professionals, Mrs White would like to see the age of criminal responsibility raised to 14.

"They're still our babies," she said.

"I have a nine-year-old myself and I know he does not have the capacity to understand the criminal system, let alone the education system."

Mrs White believes children being incarcerated will only push them backwards, not forwards.

The generational impacts of the Stolen Generation are still being felt now, according to Mrs White.

"As an educator, I believe education is key here," she said.

Mrs White said it's important children can have Indigenous role models and educators to look up to and learn from.

"Somebody who has been in the same situation as them and has come out the other end," she said.

"Perhaps someone who has lived through domestic violence and is now an advocate for raising awareness of the issue."

Mrs White was a former Camden Haven High School student but said she struggled with her own education.

As an avid sport enthusiast, Mrs White said all she wanted to do was play outdoors.

She couldn't read or write as a child and has since come full circle to be able to teach others.

"I understand why some children don't want to read out loud in the classroom," she said.

"I used to be silly and run out of the room when it was my turn, because I couldn't read."

Mrs White said the learning environment of the classroom must be adjusted to make all children feel comfortable.

"You're supporting them to break barriers," she said.

Mrs White said she is very conscious of the stereotypes and living in a community where Indigenous people do not have a defined presence.

"I find myself going above and beyond to try and break that and show the community Indigenous children don't fit into these stereotypes," she said.

"We don't all fit into one bracket, we're all individuals."

Two of Mrs White's children play for the local football club, where Indigenous artwork has been designed for the players' uniforms.

"My boys get really excited about wearing the clothing and so do their friends," she said.

Mrs White said it is important for all children, not just Indigenous children, to have a love and appreciation for Aboriginal culture.

"It's beautiful to sit back as a parent and see the other kids develop love for Aboriginal education and help build my kids up in that way," she said.

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