Education

The NSDC believes that school teachers and the broader Australian education system are well positioned to play an important role in educating and informing children and youth about the history of the Stolen Generations, as part of their broader learning on Australian culture, history and society.

The NSDC is committed to raising awareness across Australia of the Stolen Generations, and of the importance of celebrating the Anniversary of the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples (‘the Anniversary of the Apology’ on 13 February each year) and commemorating National Sorry Day (26 May each year).

Until the development of the Australian Curriculum (which each State and Territory will adopt by 2014), each State and Territory educational authority introduced the topic of the history of the Stolen Generations to their history curriculum at different school grades, with some waiting until Grade 10.

It is the NSDC's belief that by Grade 10, many students have already developed initial perspectives on what they consider to be the most important aspects of Australian history and society.

The NSDC argues that such a delay has caused widespread ignorance among the country’s youth of the significant challenges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have experienced in the face of colonialism, displacement, institutionalised racism, and the forcible removal of Aboriginal and some Torres Strait Islander children.

The same delay in education threatens to further marginalise the already under represented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students that achieve a complete education from Grade 3 to 10. It is far more likely that an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student will underachieve or experience dissatisfaction in their schooling if the curriculum they are taught does not integrate and reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.

This is why it came as such welcomed news when the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) announced in January 2012 that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures would form one of three cross-curriculum priorities in the new Australian Curriculum.

Since the beginning of 2011, the NSDC has campaigned for and made submissions to ACARA recommending that the significance of the Stolen Generations be taught at age appropriate levels from Year 3 to Year 10 within the new Australian Curriculum, and that dates of significance in the context of the Stolen Generations be taught and marked at the appropriate times of the year.

Having been disappointed by the poor representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the first draft of the Australian Curriculum, the NSDC has since campaigned for and succeeded in achieving:

- An amendment of a section of the Grade 4 history syllabus so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not grouped with ‘flora and fauna’ when students are taught the impact of British colonisation.

- A change in the teaching of colonial history in Grade 5 to include a clear reference to the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

- In Grade 6, the teaching of the experiences of children in the context of Australian democracy and citizenship, and of the forcible removal of children from their families leading to the Stolen Generations as an example of the lack of citizenship rights of Australia’s First Nations Peoples.

- The recognition of the significance of the 1962 amendment of the Commonwealth Electoral Act to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the right to enrol and vote in Commonwealth elections irrespective of their voting rights at the state level, and the significance of the 1967 referendum that gave the Commonwealth powers to make laws with respect to Aboriginal people and have them counted in the census.  

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