Buddhism teaching

Teaching the Australian truth is an opportunity for all young people | Hayley McQuire

IIn April, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority announced public consultations on the National Curriculum Review on how First Nations peoples experienced British colonization and terra nullius as an invasion that negated their occupation of the country and place.

So why is the proposed change so important? Because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth say so. Shouldn’t we listen to what these young people experience when they learn history?

The National Coalition for Indigenous Youth Education listened to young people across the continent. The majority felt that it was important to teach the true history of colonization and invasion, and that when this history is absent from the classroom, it makes them feel that First Nations people, stories and experiences are not important. The young crowd who had learned the true history of colonization, on the other hand, felt that their stories and history were important and valued.

First Nations youth have a right under international law to a self-determined education. In all honesty, the full realization of these rights requires a First Nations-led education system, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t focus on asserting these rights within the mainstream system as well.

The program change announced in April is just one in a series of actions that must take place. Educators and school leaders always have the choice whether or not to adopt the interdisciplinary focus of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.

That’s why NIYEC and our partners In My Blood It Runs and Be have launched #LearnOurTruth, an action-oriented, youth-led campaign focused on three areas: student agency, school leadership and local stories. told by the locals. As part of the campaign, NIYEC is calling on school leaders and educators to make the educator pledge to embed truth in school culture, ensuring that school improvement and education plans program include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, support their educators, and listen to First Nations students. More than a hundred headteachers responded to the call.

The campaign recognizes the incredible influence and responsibility of school leaders in creating a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students and in embedding learning Our Truth into their school culture.

It is essential to ensure that it is not the responsibility of one or two First Nations staff or parents of a school to educate all staff and make that school culturally safe. This is an unrealistic expectation and means that First Nations people bear all the responsibility. It would also mean that unless there is a First Nations person in every school in Australia, students will not have access to a learning experience that accurately teaches the true history of this continent and the experiences of the First Nations of this story.

First Nations peoples have the right to reclaim the stories and determine how they want their stories, experiences and knowledge shared. This is for each nation to determine. It is the responsibility of all schools operating on unceded land to respect this.

Now is the time for everyone to support the proposed change in the curriculum. Some would say it’s too political, frankly. To me, it’s only political if your politics is based on maintaining the continued oppression of First Nations people.

Whether you like it or not, the truth is all around us. It’s in the country. It’s in our communities. It is in the systems and structures that continue to influence our lives.

Teaching the truth offers all young people the opportunity to understand their connection to the past and its influence on the legacy of tomorrow.

Hayley McQuire is a Darumbal and South Seas Islander and co-founder of the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition