Today I was asked a question that I have been asked a few times since I started speaking to schools about Wingaru Kids.
Do I really think increasing Aboriginal education can make a difference?
The answer is yes. I 100% believe that if more people had access to quality education about Aboriginal people and culture, Australia would be a different place, or at least have a chance of being a different place.
Education means increased empathy, a greater understanding and breaking through misconceptions that permeate Australian communities.
Every week I see or hear conversations questioning why Aboriginal people are so disadvantaged when they get so many free things. I am quick to correct these views but how successful I am is questionable given how ingrained these racist and misinformed views are. Education means that people will be armed with facts to inform their opinions and therefore be less likely to believe the popular misinformation that is everywhere we look. They may also be brave enough to openly challenge these misconceptions, something Aboriginal people have to do every single day.
Every day there are people working hard to address the disadvantage Aboriginal people face. They work tirelessly on programs and initiatives that have the potential to deliver real change but are faced with a number or barriers. With education, these barriers become easier to break through and some even disappear.
Racism is a significant problem for Australia. With education comes understanding and tolerance. Students begin to understand what racism is and the impact it has not only on victims but on society as a whole. This knowledge will make people think twice about their actions and in due course is likely to reduce the incidence of racism.
I am not for a minute suggesting that education alone will fix every issue facing Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people. But I 100% believe it is a part of the solution and that consistent, quality education will make a difference. I don't think it will be easy by any means but every small change contributes to a bigger change. Every school that makes a commitment to Aboriginal Education is a step in the right direction.
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