‘Curriculum must focus on black history, not fairytales’
SPOKESWOMAN of the Lismore-based Widjabul Wybal Black Lives Matter movement, Cindy Roberts, has expressed deep concerns about the extent of Aboriginal history being taught in our schools.
The Widjabul Wybal woman said there were many missing pieces of local history in the NSW school curriculum, creating a culture of ignorance.
"Many non-indigenous people don't know about their local history, of our pain, struggles, murders, deaths in custody, massacres and rapes, removal of children and modern day genocide," Ms Roberts said.
"This is because they weren't taught the black history of this country, only the fairytale side of the First Fleet and colonisation, which was a frontier war against our people.
"White Australia has a black history and the truth needs to be told. It needs to be addressed and taught in the curriculum and be an integral narrative."
She said when she was at school all students learnt about white figureheads such as Captain Cook.
"That didn't happen for our black history and it's still fundamentally not happening now," Ms Roberts said.
Ballina MP Tamara Smith, who taught Aboriginal Studies for 15 years, said Ms Roberts was "spot on".
She said students were taught a generic history in geography and history classes, and there was scope to include localised history in these classes.
She added that some students were getting a thorough education.
"The curriculum I taught was amazing," Ms Smith said.
"I worked at Southern Cross School which is now Ballina Coast High School, where I was spoiled for extraordinary resources. We have so many Aboriginal historians in our area.
"I designed case studies to be local."
However, she does not believe the onus should be on teachers to ensure students have a deeper understanding of Aboriginal history.
"Teachers are working their guts out, it needs to come from the leadership," Ms Smith said.
"Aboriginal studies should be compulsory for all students to do for a full year, maybe in year seven.
"It's up to the education department to make sure every student leaves us with a deep understanding of our heritage
"We have a vast black heritage extending 60,000 years."
Meanwhile there will be an opportunity to hear local Indigenous stories at the upcoming Black Lives Matter protest on June 26.