Home News and Politics 3 Shocking Indigenous Political Moments Victorian School Students Missed Out on Discovering

3 Shocking Indigenous Political Moments Victorian School Students Missed Out on Discovering

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3 Shocking Indigenous Political Moments Victorian School Students Missed Out on Discovering

Did Australia’s School Curriculum Fail to Teach Indigenous Political Movements?

Many Australians are shocked to learn about Indigenous histories that were omitted from their school education. The recent spread of false claims, such as the idea that a Voice to Parliament would grant “special privileges,” highlights the significant gaps in public understanding of Indigenous political movements. Research examining 120 years of Victorian curriculum documents reveals a consistent failure to include Indigenous political movements, providing an inaccurate and incomplete portrayal of their diversity and objectives. Three key moments in Indigenous political history were notably absent from the curriculum.


1. The 1880s Coranderrk Campaign

The Coranderrk campaign was a notable effort by the Wurundjeri community to protect their land from settlers who pressured the government to shut down the Aboriginal reserve. The campaign involved letters, petitions, and deputations to Melbourne, leading to the 1881 Parliamentary Coranderrk Inquiry. However, historical Victorian curriculum documents did not mention this campaign and instead depicted Aboriginal people as a “dying race” subjected to settler violence.


2. The 1960s Ending of Assimilation

In the post-war era, Aboriginal political movements gained momentum, with events like the 1965 Freedom Ride and the Wave Hill Walkoff in 1966. Despite these significant developments, the curriculum focused primarily on British history and presented Indigenous people as relics of the past rather than active political agents fighting for their rights and land.


3. The 1988 Treaty Campaign

In 1988, over 40,000 people marched through Sydney, demanding recognition of Australia’s black history and advocating for a treaty between the Commonwealth and Indigenous nations. The Barunga Statement called for the recognition of Indigenous sovereignty, but this history was poorly represented in the curriculum material studied. The inclusion of more Indigenous perspectives after the bicentenary protests was followed by backlash in the form of the “history wars.”


Is Australia’s Curriculum Changing?

A revised version of the Australian curriculum, released in 2022, shows a potential shift towards addressing past omissions. The new curriculum emphasizes “truth-telling” and includes discussions of important historical events and figures related to Indigenous political movements. However, Indigenous sovereignty as a concept remains inadequately addressed. Organizations like the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition have called for a more comprehensive examination of Indigenous sovereignty and the history of colonization in schools.

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