Make Indigenous studies a subject in the Australian Curriculum

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On the 12th June 2020, education ministers agreed it was timely to review the Australian Curriculum.

It is clearer than ever before that Australia’s First Nations’ History and Culture needs to be a core learning area of the Australian Curriculum, from Prep through to Year 10. It is insufficient for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Culture to be merely a non-compulsory, cross-curriculum Priority; our students need a well-rounded, holistic and in-depth instruction of First Nation Australians’ history and culture delivered via a dedicated learning area, by facilitators who have been similarly educated.

The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers specifies that proficient teachers should ‘Provide opportunities for students to develop understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.’ (APST 2.4). The most effective way to ensure consistency of this would be through permanently adding First Nations’ History and Culture to the Australian Curriculum, as a core learning area.

Education is key to lasting change. If we want to see an end to historical and cultural ignorance in Australia, we need to act now in ensuring the review of the Australian Curriculum provides space so that all Australians receive the education they are entitled to – one that opens students up to the rich and complex First Nations’ societies before colonisation, the severe and devastating impact of colonisation, and the inspiring and impressive collective struggles for justice, land rights and reform that continue to this day.

This petition calls for:
- First Nations’ History and Culture to be added as a reportable learning area of the F-10 Australian Curriculum
- The high-school history curriculum to be adjusted, and updated using the latest research by academics such as Bill Gammage AM, Prof. Lyndall Ryan and Bruce Pascoe, to include a mandatory unit on Ancient Australian Society as part of Year 7, make mandatory the unit on British invasion and its impact on Indigenous people in Year 9 and integrating Indigenous content into all of the depth studies in Year 10
- Mandatory and regular training for all educators to equip and empower them to deliver the curriculum with historical accuracy and cultural sensitivity

"I grew up only a couple of hours' drive away from some of the oldest human structures in the world (the fish traps in Brewarrina) and didn't even know they existed. The lack of awareness of the incredible sophistication of indigenous history and culture, enabled by our inadequate curriculum, is an injustice and an indictment of our education system.”
Tim Arnot, Teacher, MacGregor State High School

"Last year, I made the decision to introduce First Nations History and Culture as a part of my weekly timetable. I was humbled by the response of my Prep students. It fast became the highlight of our week and I can honestly say those little five years old students are more culturally aware and enlightened Australian citizens because of this."
Emma Birtwistle, Teacher, MacGregor State School