How is the 2019 school year here already?
This week as families, including my own, get back into the swing of everyday life and remember the routines that come with having school age children, I can’t help but be excited about what the year may hold. How will my children grow and develop this year? What newly found knowledge will they share with me as they burst through the door eager to share the amazing facts they have discovered? How much bigger will their feet get and how many new pairs of shoes will I need to buy to keep up? With each year I see more of the great men they will be and watching them navigate who they will be is without a doubt one of my greatest privileges.
I am also really excited to introduce some new services to Wingaru as we introduce Wingaru Butabuta Cultural Awareness Training and education services for adults. The name Wingaru Butabuta is inspired by the teaming up of two amazing Aboriginal women who have come together to share their knowledge and experience with organisations looking to increase their cultural capacity. Tricia, a Darug woman, and Cynthia, a Dunghutti woman, share the Wingaru mission of creating a shared understanding about Aboriginal Australia.
Wingaru, a Darug word meaning 'to think' and Butabuta, a Dunghutti word, meaning 'together' is the perfect name for the services that Tricia and Cynthia will be overseeing and there are no words to express how excited I am to introduce the program that they have put together. Wingaru Butabuta offers programs for organisations of all types including government and non-government organisations, teachers and educators working across all stages as well as individuals wishing to increase their understanding of Aboriginal people. We are also able to support organisations in developing culturally appropriate education materials, programs and plans such a Reconciliation Action Plans.
We also have some great things planned for the coming year for Wingaru Kids and Bubs. We of course have new content for both platforms, including NAIDOC resources which will support kids of all ages to think about the importance of Aboriginal voices, the truth about Aboriginal history and our people, and of course treaty and the ways that we can best recognise the rights of our first nations. Our educators have been busy over the break working on Aboriginal perspectives for STEM. This includes revisiting many lessons on the Wingaru Kids Platform to highlight relevant Science outcomes and have included engaging new printables. We also have some new language lessons on the way in recognition of 2019 being the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
When I chat to the teachers whose classes use the Wingaru Platform the most, the thing they have in common is planning, whether it be yearly, termly or weekly. The curriculum is busy and it is difficult to find time for all the things we ask teachers to include in the classroom so having lessons where Aboriginal perspectives are combined with outcomes from Key Learning Areas such as HASS, Science, PDHPE or English is a big advantage.
Planning can also support more regular inclusion of Aboriginal content in the classroom so as you are planning for this term I encourage you to consider ways you can deliver Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives each week. I'd love to see your approach to planning - sing out if we can help!
Every time I hear someone say that racism is not a problem in Australia I am surprised because racism is an everyday factor in the lives of Aboriginal people. Regardless of our age, skin colour and social status we are disadvantaged every day due to attitudes and actions based on our Aboriginality. And I am genuinely surprised that people cannot see it. How do they miss it?
You need look no further than social media to see this. Read any post that relates to an Aboriginal person and you will see the plethora of racist comments based on myth, bias and ignorance. A white person dies and the world expresses sympathy and support for the family in an outpouring of grief. An Aboriginal person dies and the family is instantly judged as incompetent, criminal and disrespectful. The ignorant comments come thick and fast.
The recent comments on the death of the lads from Townsville is an example of this. It was instantly assumed they died committing a crime (that later reports revealed to be committed by a white man) and people felt it appropriate to write comments that are nothing short of disgusting, adding to the stress, trauma and loss a family is already facing. Why is the loss of an Aboriginal life not given the same respect as the non-Aboriginal person?
Australia Day is another example of the racism that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face daily. The belief that we do nothing but drink, wait for handouts and do nothing to better our lives feeds the hate that is directed towards us. Reading the comments is exhausting but I couldn’t look away because our country cannot go on the way it is. We need to find a solution and therefore need to understand where the hate comes from. Racism is complicated and I am not suggesting that the solution is simple but reading the comments it was very clear that most of the hate comes from misinformation and ignorance that continues to be spread due to fear. We can address this through education.
The reality is this – Australia was invaded and the country stolen from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People who despite the atrocities committed against them have maintained a connection to land. Acknowledging this takes nothing away from non-Aboriginal people. No one is asking them to pay for the crimes of the past, but acknowledging that the past happened and had a lasting impact is important.
Educating all Australians will help address the misconceptions feeding racism. We need to start there.
Closing the Gap Day is next week and it is a great opportunity to start a conversation about Aboriginal disadvantage to inform an understanding about the issues impacting on Aboriginal people and what we can all do to start to address the gap. We had a great response to our Closing the Gap Activity last year so I have attached it again in case you would like to revisit.
It’s that time of year again. You know, when Australians come together to celebrate how great Australia is on the day that marks the anniversary of the beginning of the cultural destruction for Aboriginal Australians.
Weeks before the big day social media fights ignite – should we really be holding a national party on the day that was devastating for a culture? The media throws fuel on the fire, pitting people against each other and soon Australians are at each other’s throats, arguing for their view point. This year the PM added a new dimension to the fight and announced he would introduce legislation forcing local councils to hold citizenship ceremonies on the 26th January, a practice some Councils have abandoned out of respect for their local Aboriginal people.
The racist comments and hate that is thrown towards Aboriginal people at this time of year is horrific and as an Aboriginal person it is hard not to be offended. But as I read through the appalling hate and racism it is clear that many Australians have missed the point and we are arguing for different things.
Those who are asking for the date to be changed are not asking for people to stop being proud to be Australian. They are not asking for people to give up their public holiday or to stop celebrating the achievements of their families. They are just asking for us as a country to stop hosting the nation’s biggest party on a day that forever changed a culture, a day that mass murders, rapes and destruction began. They are asking us to remember the true history of the country and to respect the people that gave up their lives in order for us to live ours today.
Changing the date takes nothing away from anyone, despite what mainstream media has us believe. All it does is move the party to a day when all Australians can truly participate. It’s not a big ask given that the 26th of January is a recent date for the day to be held and 56% of Australians don’t mind when the day is held as long as we have one (read more about this poll here).
There seems to be this fear that changing the date somehow takes something away from non-Aboriginal Australia. That somehow Aboriginal people will be gaining something at the expense of their fellow Australians. Yet in reality all that would be happening is that we would be moving forward together, with respect for the real history of our country and acknowledgement of the journey that brought Australia to where it is today.
The date will change eventually, that I am confident of. Shouldn’t we just do it now and start a celebration that we can all be part of?
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.