Catholic Schools NSW (CSNSW) acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia. We honour their stories, traditions, spirituality and living cultures, acknowledging their unique contribution to the life of this country. CSNSW acknowledges Aboriginal families and communities as the first and continuing educators of their children and young people. In referring to Aboriginal people, this website and materials refer inclusively to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

2024 Catholic Schools NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Conference

Join us for the triennial 2024 Catholic Schools NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Conference this October in the heart of NSW’s New England Region, Tamworth.

Hosted by Armidale Catholic Schools, the conference will provide a unique opportunity for educators to advance their professional knowledge and skills, improve educational outcomes, and champion reconciliation among families and communities based on their improved understanding of culture.

Attendees will explore the implications of NSW Curriculum Reform’s explicit inclusion of Aboriginal Histories across all syllabuses. The conference will also provide an opportunity to experience the rich cultural significance of Aboriginal connection to land and the role it has in the spiritual, educational, cultural and economic wellbeing of Aboriginal peoples.

Throughout the 3-day event, presentations, workshops and on country experiences are designed to develop educators’ intercultural skills and knowledge. They are intended to build understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures through:

  • the awareness of history
  • the learning of intercultural and cross-cultural skills
  • a deepened awareness of what supports the creation of inclusive, intercultural classrooms.

It is an opportunity to play an active role in the reconciliation process by strengthening existing networks by sharing, collaborating, and celebrating colleagues’ achievements.

This conference provides a special time for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples across the 11 Dioceses and RI/MPJP schools in NSW to connect and come together.

Date & Time

Registration: Monday 21st October, 3:00-5:00 pm
Day 1: Tuesday 22nd October, 7:00 am – 5:00 pm
Day 2: Wednesday 23rd October, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm,
Gala Dinner: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Day 3: Thursday 24th October, 8:00 am – 2:00 pm


Registration, Day 2 & Day 3:
Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre (TRECC)

Day 1:
National Heritage Site Myall Creek Memorial Site ( to depart on buses from TRECC)


Sponsorship Prospectus

We are now taking sponsorship applications, click here to download the sponsorship prospectus.

Call for abstracts

We are currently accepting abstracts for those wishing to take part. All workshops will be 55 minutes and need to align with one of the below conference streams/themes. If you are eager to participate in this unique conference and play an active role in the reconciliation process by strengthening existing networks by sharing, collaborating, and celebrating, please fill out the Abstract Form below.

Latest news


Anita Heiss

Dr Anita Heiss MC

Professor of Communications at the University of Queensland, and an Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the GO Foundation

Dr Anita Heiss AM (Wiradyuri Nation) is an award-winning author of over 20 books. She is an international speaker with a background in Australian First Nations literature calling her audiences to action on issues that she is passionate about. She is a board member of the National Justice Project and Circa Contemporary Theatre. Anita is a Professor of Communications at the University of Queensland and an Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the GO Foundation. Her play Tiddas premiered as part of the 2022 Brisbane Festival, and in 2023 Anita has six new books on the shelves, including her first children’s picture book Bidhi Galing (Big Rain).
Anita runs, eats chocolate and is proud to be a creative disruptor.

Ann Milne

Dr Ann Milne

MNZM, PhD, Ann Milne Education

Dr Ann Milne is a Pākehā educator who led the Kia Aroha College community’s almost 30-year journey to develop a critically conscious, culturally sustaining learning approach centred on students’ cultural identities. That learning is described in her doctoral research, and in her book, Coloring in the White Spaces: Reclaiming Cultural Identity in Whitestream Schools, which was published in 2016.
Ann’s services to education were recognised in 2020 when she was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Ann is also the recipient of several national research awards and scholarships, including the New Zealand Principals’ Federation’s prestigious “Service with Distinction” Award in 2015 for “outstanding service to education in New Zealand.” Since retiring from her principal’s role in 2016, Ann has established Ann Milne Education and Ann Milne Online to share her long leadership experience in this area.

Dr Keri Milne-Ihimaera

DMDA (Doctor of Maori Development and Advancement), Keri Mihi Consulting

Dr Keri Milne-Ihimaera (Ngāi Tahu) runs her own consultancy business (Keri Mihi Consulting) where she works with groups and organisations who are committed to improving outcomes for Māori. She has two decades of experiences in roles as a school principal, General Manager, and Executive Director and currently advises the NZ Education Institute (NZEI) on their provision for Māori and works with the NZNO (Nurses Union) leadership. She serves as a board member for the Well South Primary Health Network, and is a member of the Academic Board of Ako Mātātupu/Teach First NZ.
Keri lives within her tribal boundary in Bluff, Southland – and is a Trustee on her tribal boards (Te Rūnaka o Awarua and Awarua Whānau Services). She is a wife, mum, and nanny to seven mokopuna (grandchildren). Keri is relentless in her focus on improving outcomes for Māori and ensuring mokopuna are able to live as Māori and achieve as Māori, determining their own direction, within their modern-day context. She believes this won’t occur by making subtle, safe, and conservative changes.

Nathan Towney

Nathan Towney

Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Strategy and Leadership, University of Newcastle

Nathan Towney is a proud Wiradjuri man from Wellington, NSW and is Pro Vice-Chancellor of Indigenous Strategy and Leadership at the University of Newcastle. Prior to this appointment, Nathan spent over 20 years in the NSW Department of Education in a variety of roles, including his final appointment as the Principal of Newcastle High School. Nathan is a visible, active and strategic leader who champions people to be the best they can be. Most recently, Nathan has pulled a team together to develop the ‘Reimagining Evaluation: A Culturally Responsive Evaluation Framework for the NSW Department of Education’. Nathan has a passion for educational leadership and the characteristics of leaders that create environments where people want to be.

What’s included in your ticket

Included in your ticket price will be as follows:

  • 3 days of professional learning.
  • Access to 2 on Country Experiences.
  • Opportunity to experience an invaluable journey about the story of Myall Creek at the heritage-listed  Myall Creek Memorial Site.
  • Transportation to and from Myall Creek Memorial Site on Day 1 (Tuesday 22nd of October), departing and returning to TRECC.
  • Invitation to the Gala Dinner on Day 2 (Wednesday 23rd of October).
  • Catering and refreshments across the conference.
  • Access to Catholic Schools NSW conference app.
  • Personalised lanyard.
  • The opportunity to strengthen your understanding of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in a Catholic environment.

Why gather at Myall Creek?

The first day of the conference will take place at the Myall Creek Massacre site. The site is of both cultural and historic significance and the immersion supports the following state and national Aboriginal education priorities.

NESA Reform Priority 5.3:

  • A curriculum that specifies what every student should know and understand about Aboriginal cultures and histories and incorporate this into Human Society and its Environment.

ATSIL Building a Culturally Responsive Australian Teacher Workforce final report:

  • Institutional action at the school, system, sector and national level, supporting teachers to enhance and enrich their practice and to maximise student outcomes by developing their intercultural responsiveness.

In order to be fully prepared to walk country and be immersed in the story of Myall Creek we recommend visiting the Friends of Myall Creek Memorial (FMCM) website to learn both the story of the Myall Creek massacre and the story of the initiative taken in 1998 that led to the creation of the Myall Creek Memorial as an act of reconciliation and healing. 

Conference Themes

1. Songlines -Past and Present (Teaching & Learning)

Songlines are intrinsic links across Country encompassing traditional and modern cultural knowledge,stories, medicine, food and technology, astronomy, language, customs and teachings. This concurrent theme focuses on teaching and learning concepts in a plethora of formats from cultural learning, the NSW Reformed syllabuses, teaching strategies and advice, evidence-based research practices and innovative student engagement programs and pathways to a hope filled future. 

2. Walking Country Together -Reconciliation (School & Community)

This concurrent theme focuses on the important role of reconciliation and shapes the way we move forward as a school, community and nation through educational immersions, reflection and most importantly walking together to build a deeper understanding of Truth Telling with an open heart.

3. Strong Culture, Strong Spirit –Wellbeing (Empowerment & Healing Journey) 

This concurrent theme focuses on the important role of wellbeing, empowerment, belonging and healing programs and how they intertwine with cultural practices and knowledge to ensure our students, staff and community are Strong in Culture and Strong in Spirit in a culturally safe way.

4. Aboriginal Spirituality 

This concurrent theme focuses on the continual relationship and responsibility to care for our place and all things in our place. It transcends through Country in many facets of landscapes, stories, songs, language and relationships to give strength to one’s identity and direction to walk in two worlds in all its sacredness.

NESA Accreditation

Completing the CSNSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Conference 2024 Spirit on Country: Learning Together, Then, Now and Always will contribute to 8 hours of NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Accredited PD in the priority area of Aboriginal Education Aboriginal and Supporting Aboriginal Students addressing standard descriptor 2.4.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

Message Stick

The Catholic Schools NSW Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Conference Message Stick is making a journey across the Armidale Catholic Schools Diocese starting at St Mary’s Catholic Church Walgett for Mass to share the message of the conference Spirit on Country: Learning Together, then, now & always with our parish community.


Whilst Tamworth does have a variety of accommodation options, be sure to book as early as possible for your most favourable option. Below are a few options for accommodation; for more selection, please look at

Option 1: Location close to the TRECC
CH Apartments Ringers Road, Tamworth – 02 57129700
Golden Guitar Motor Inn – Ringers Rd, Tamworth – 67622999
City Lights Caravan – 612-628 Goonoo Goonoo Rd, Tamworth – 67657664
Studio 367 Guest House – 367 Goonoo Goonoo Rd, Tamworth – 0400 364 430

Option 2: Budget
Tamworth City Motel – 350-356 Goonoo Goonoo Rd, Tamworth – 67659258
Motel 359-359 Goonoo Goonoo Rd, Tamworth
Stockmans Motel – 2-24 Spains Lane, Kingswood – 67658525
EconoLodge Savannah Park – 559-597 Burgmanns Lane, Tamworth – 67657922

Option 3: Premium
Powerhouse Hotel Tamworth by Rydges – 248 Armidale Road, Tamworth
Quality Inn Ashby House – 83-85 Ebsworth St, Tamworth – 67620033
CH Boutique Hotel – 52 Brisbane St, Tamworth – 02 57129700
Best Western Sanctuary Inn – 293 Marius St, Tamworth – 67662903
Best Western All Settlers Motor Inn – 191 Goonoo Goonoo Rd, Tamworth – 67621566

Getting to Tamworth

There are multiple options when deciding how to make your way to Tamworth, NSW.

Drive – It is approximately a 5-hour journey from Sydney, 4 hours from Newcastle and 6 hours from Wollongong.
Fly – There are regular flight services to and from Sydney through Qantas. The flight time is approximately 1 hour.
Train – The Armidale XPLORER train runs daily between Sydney and Tamworth.

Accommodation discount

The All Settlers Best Western in Tamworth is offering hotel corporate rates to all Spirit on Country Conference attendees. To access these rates please mention that you are a Spirit on Country attendee when booking over the phone.

Best Western All Settlers Motor Inn – 191 Goonoo Goonoo Rd, Tamworth – 67621566

The Econo Lodge Gateway welcomes all visitors to Tamworth for the 2024 Spirit of Country Conference. Fully licensed bar and kitchen and well appointed rooms, we are located 5 mins from the TRECC. Use link below or call (02) 6765 7022 to book discounted rates.

Any questions?

We’re happy to help with any questions you might have. Please get in touch using the button below.