In conversation: Tammy Anderson

Tammy Anderson has been an educator and passionate advocate for Aboriginal education in schools for 20 years. A Biripi woman from Airds in NSW, Tammy is the principal at Briar Road Public School, a 2021 Narragunnawali Reconciliation in Education Awards finalist.

Reconciliation News sat down with Tammy to talk about her career and building connections with community to achieve reconciliation in education.

Image of Tammy Anderson

Biripi woman and principal at Briar Road Public School, Tammy Anderson. Photo: Supplied.

Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and your career so far as an educator?

I’m a Biripi woman and principal at a very special primary school called Briar Road. I grew up here on Dharawal Country and went to Briar Road as a girl, so the school has always been important to me. I started my career here 20 years ago and have taken up roles across the school, from classroom teacher through to Aboriginal Education resource teacher.

One of the key principles I’ve led with is that what works for Aboriginal students works for all students. With 44% of the student body identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, we’ve shaped the school by asking ourselves ‘How can we bring Aboriginal Education and First Nations learnings into the classroom to enhance the learning experience for everybody?’

You grew up in the area and went to the school yourself, why was it important for you to come back as an Aboriginal Educator?

I wanted my community to see that they can go on and be whoever it is that they want to be. Aboriginal students can make it, whether in the corporate world or the education space.It’s also about giving back to my community and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a privilege to come back; to lead and watch young people become stronger and smarter every day. I don’t ever feel like it’s work – I feel like I’ve come home. I take the job I’ve got to do very seriously: to leave the community better than what it was when I got here.

How do you feel your own connection to the community supports you as principal?

Well, my connection with community was what made my initial entry into the position of principal a success. If I didn’t have community credibility, I would’ve needed to work a lot harder to build that trust.Our community is reflected in the faces of the kids we see and teach every day, so preserving that relationship and trust we have with community must be front and centre. You cannot ever oversell the importance of our community and relationships. They have and continue to be critical to the success of our school.

Honouring culture in learning allows kids the space to develop a strong sense of belonging.

To read the full interview with Tammy Anderson, head to the article in the latest edition of Reconciliation News. 

This edition of Reconciliation News brings you stories of community-driven success, excellence and self-determination; in Indigenous-led organisations, sports, schools and in Government. Download the full PDF or read the full edition online.

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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