Enhancing the role of learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia: Rhetoric to practice

Thursday, 23 March 2017
Majon Williamson Kefu

It is critical to improve the practical implementation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures as a cross-curriculum priority in the Australian Curriculum to ensure the level of classroom engagement goes beyond basic tokenism. Making specific recommendations that outline what appropriate content and quality resources can be used would make this task much more achievable. This is too often the task of individual teachers in practice, who must work broad curriculum ideas into specific lessons and consult with community Elders for content approval. Often teachers who have had limited Indigenous cultural training are required to negotiate the sensitive and dynamic line of what can be shared, which is such a daunting task for some that they see it as impossible. This paper will examine the current policies relating to the role of learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia in the primary school education system across Australia, and discuss the need for more directive and supportive structures to enable teachers to effectively engage with appropriate content respectfully.