Yarning In Progress: Education Quarterly, Issue 8 2023
In 2018, Federation accepted the invitation issued to all Australians by the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We accepted the generous offer from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to walk together to build a kinder, more compassionate country, in which we can all thrive. We thank those who voted “yes” with us.
The referendum result, and the journey to this point, reminds us that change can be a long and challenging process, and that we can encounter obstacles along the way. As teachers, we have a deep responsibility to build the skills, knowledge and understanding of our students, to help shape the world that our students live in. This is transformative, and public education is at the heart of our society and, indeed, democracy. Education provides a path to knowledge, opportunity and social progress for all. It is a powerful tool that can challenge biases, dismantle stereotypes and create inclusive environments.
This referendum has also proved to be the most successful campaign of disinformation in the history of our democracy. The lessons learned from this must be taken on board by Federation and any other organisation involved in the pursuit of social justice. We must be mindful of the need to protect truth-telling in history and to ensure that curriculum continues to incorporate critical thinking, civics education and the literacy skills required for future voters to be able to discern fact from opinion.
Moving forward, as we walk together in hope for a better future, let us make sure that we do not take a step backwards. Let us foster an environment in public education where open and honest discussions about our history can take place. Let us inspire critical thinking, empathy, and a sense of responsibility among our students. When we equip our young people with the knowledge needed to truly understand the past, we empower them to be active, informed citizens who can shape a more just and compassionate future.
We are union and as such, we campaign to win, regardless of the setbacks along the way. Federation’s pursuit of social justice objectives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, teachers and school communities will always be guided by the 2018 decision of Annual Conference, the Aboriginal Education- 25 year approach: the way forward policy, and advice from our Aboriginal members through committees, caucus, Council and Annual Conference.
As employees of the Department, we are reminded that Aboriginal education is everybody’s business, it is “core business for all staff”. We should take this opportunity to reflect on actions we can take in our workplaces to ensure our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, staff and communities can be recognised and listened to.