INDIGENOUS leaders, academics and educators are angered by a lack of consultation in the development of the national school curriculum, which they argue relegates Aboriginal people and their culture to “historical artifacts”.
In a letter to Education Minister Julia Gillard, the group calls for indigenous people to be actively consulted and involved in the development of the curriculum, including a representative on the board of the National Curriculum Authority. Contact this group through AEU Deputy Federal Secretary Darcel Russell.
The letter is available here
The letter collected more than 200 signatures, including University of South Australia education professor Peter Buckskin, head of the Stronger Smarter Institute Chris Sarra, University of Technology Sydney law professor Larissa Behrendt, Canberra University education lecturer Kaye Price and president of the NSW Aboriginal Educational Consultative Group Cindy Berwick.
Professor Buckskin, dean of the David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research at the University of South Australia, says the draft national curriculum presented indigenous people “from an anthropological point of view; it sees us as museum pieces”.
“The national Australian curriculum has to be inclusive of indigenous perspectives and through our world view, of contemporary indigenous people in the 21st century and what should Aboriginal kids look like in 25 years, what any child who graduates after 12 or 13 years of school should look like,” he said. ”Are people going to continue to talk about Aboriginal people instead of talking with them?”
Professor Buckskin said the curriculum should present contemporary indigenous culture and cover the contribution made by indigenous people to the development of the nation, from accompanying explorers to building the telegraph line from Adelaide to Darwin to the inventions and literature of men such as Unaipon.
“I would hope Australian children are more knowledgeable about the experiences of Australia’s first peoples and they see them not as the enemy but as a valued contributor to the Australian psyche,” he said.