The dominant culture underpins the curriculum of many schools and influences its content, as well as the skills, processes and values promoted in schools.
A 'Welcome to Country' is a practice that has taken place for thousands of years in Indigenous Australia, in which an Indigenous custodian or Elder from a particular traditional area in Australia welcomes people to their land through speech, ceremony or music.A contemporary and high profile example of a Welcome to Country is Sydney New Year's Eve. A Welcome to Country is also common at more modest events such as conferences, school assemblies and launches. An 'Acknowledgment of Country' can be informal or formal and involves visitors acknowledging the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander owners of the land as well as the long and continuing relationship between Indigenous peoples and their Country. Unlike a Welcome to Country, it can be performed by a non-Indigenous person.
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The 3Rs modules are underpinned by the values embodied in the title: mutual respect, positive relationships between people and reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians.The following short film was produced by Reconciliation Australia to explore the theme of National Reconciliation Week 2016 — Our History, Our Story, Our Future. It provides an insightful glimpse into the values of respect, relationships and reconciliation and their important connection to the stories of our past, our present and our future.
Showing respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be demonstrated by seeking opinion from a wide range of Elders and other community members.Respect refers to the way an individual treats others. Showing respect occurs in many ways, such as waiting to speak, not asking too many direct questions, ensuring that people are not made to feel uncomfortable or uneasy, and generally showing regard for the ideas, beliefs and cultures of others (New South Wales Department of Education and Training 2003, p. 14). Relationships and interconnectedness underpin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of thinking, being, relating and seeing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and kinship connections are essential to wellbeing.
RelationshipsThe way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected. The state of being connected by blood or marriage. The way in which two or more people or groups regard and behave towards each other (Oxford Dictionary). All students require an understanding of contemporary, inter-cultural relationships that includes:
- relationships to family
- relationships to country and place
- relationships to sea and sky
ReconciliationThe action of making one view or belief compatible with another (Oxford Dictionary). In these modules, reconciliation refers to a process of building relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous peoples that enables us to work together to close gaps in equality, and to achieve a shared sense of fairness and justice. To provide a framework for meaningfully defining and measuring reconciliation, Reconciliation Australia, the national expert body on reconciliation, released its landmark report The State of Reconciliation in Australia in 2016. Based on a comprehensive review of reconciliation in Australia and internationally, the report identifies five critical dimensions that, together, constitute a holistic picture of reconciliation. These dimensions are historical acceptance, race relations, equality and equity, institutional integrity, and unity.
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ReferencesNew South Wales Department of Education and Training, Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate 2003, Aboriginal education K-12: resource guide, Dept of Education and Training, Sydney.
Rights describe the freedoms, obligations and responsibilities people have in relation to the state (government and or authority) — a way of expressing the entitlements that people hold.Talk of rights in modern times broadly directs our notions of what actions and institutions can be considered ethical and just. Human rights are considered universal (in common to all people) and inalienable (unchallengeable and indisputable). In 1948 human rights were instituted within international law with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights where its preamble states: The equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace (United Nations 1948).
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ReferencesUnited Nations General Assembly 1948, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations, viewed 23 August 2016, <http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html>.
Suggested readings for Topic 1: Respect, relationships, reconciliation
Activity: A contemporary example of a traditional welcomeA contemporary example of a traditional welcome is the Welcome to Country app — each time you cross into a different nation, the app sends a notification and a traditional owner welcomes you to Country through a video display.
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Activity: In this activity you will have the opportunity to think about what respect means to you and your peers.We use the word respect quite often in education but what do we really mean?
- In what ways is respect similar or different to courtesy?
- In what ways is respect similar or different to politeness?
- In what ways is respect similar or different to rudeness?
- In what ways is respect similar or different to listening?
- In what ways is respect similar or different to treating people equally?
- Can respect be demanded? (If so, how and why. If not, explain why not)
- Should respect be demanded? (Again, explain your answer by giving your reason/s)
- Are your expectations of respect universal (the same for everyone)?
- How do we show respect in a university classroom?
- How will you show those you work with (students, colleagues, parents etc.) that you respect them?
- How can we enter into conversations with parents/caregivers that are respectful and consistent with high expectation relationships?
- Does respect have a place in having ‘difficult’ conversations with students and parents/caregivers about a student’s attendance, performance, behaviour etc? (If so, what is the place of respect in these conversations?)
- What opportunities do you see being presented by entering into respectful high expectation relationships with students, parents/caregivers and other members of communities?
See also the suite of Actions (under the Respect heading) on Reconciliation Australia’s Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning online platform that can be used to show respect in your classroom, around your school and with your community.
ReferencesFreakley, M, Burgh, G & MacSporran, L (2008) Values Education in Schools: A Resource Book for Inquiry, ACER Press, Victoria.
Activity: Explore the Kinship Learning Modules from the University of Sydney.Relationships and interconnectedness underpin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of thinking, being, relating and seeing.
Kinship Learning Modules
- Welcome and acknowledgment
- Nations, Clans, and family groups
- Skin Names
- Language and traditional affiliations
- Lines of communication
- Disconnected lines
- building relationships
- showing respect
- working partnerships
- cultural awareness
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Activity: Consider a timeline of significant events.Fostering reconciliation through historical acceptance requires all Australians to understand and accept the wrongs of the past and the impact of these wrongs. Accordingly, Australia can then make amends for the wrongs of the past and ensure that these wrongs are never repeated.
Review significant events in the Reconciliation Australia Share Our Pride timeline.See the Share Our Pride website. Investigate our shared history since European colonisation. Discuss the events that unfolded at the time of colonisation and consider the ongoing impacts of intergenerational trauma on Australia’s First Peoples. Critically reflect on the questions below:
- Lieutenant James Cook was issued with orders from the British Empire that if he discovered the great southern land he was to do what?
- In the early 20th century who had total control over the lives of Aboriginal Australians, dictating where they could live and be employed?
- In what period was it determined that children with non-Aboriginal ancestry should be taken from their families and raised in white institutions and what is this practice now known as?
- In what year did the Commonwealth Citizenship and Nationality Act give the category of Australian Citizenship to all Australians, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, for the first time?
- When was the Commonwealth Electoral Act amended to give the vote to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at Federal elections?
- In the 1967 Referendum what did more than 90 per cent of Australian voters in all six states say YES to?
- What was the 1992 Mabo decision about?
- What major events impacting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples occurred in 2007 and 2008?
- What are some of the wrongs of the past identified in the timeline?
- How does identifying and understanding some of wrongs of the past help us to better understand some of the challenges and complexities still present today?
- How does identifying and understanding some of the wrongs of the past help us to better address and make amends for these wrongs today, and in the future?
- What are some of the positive achievements identified in the timeline?
- How have some of the positive achievements identified in the timeline helped to support the reconciliation process?
- What are some other positive achievements and amendments that you think need to be made in the future to continue to drive the reconciliation process forward?
- How might you effectively and appropriately provide opportunities for students to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, and understand how these can contribute to a shared story of reconciliation?
For more information and ideas about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, and the history of reconciliation in Australia, consider engaging with the History resource guide (PDF file) on Reconciliation Australia’s Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning online platform.
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Activity: Reflect on visions of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.
The 'Father of Reconciliation'
Pat Dodson (1996)Patrick (‘Pat’) Dodson is a Yawuru man from Broome who, among many other roles, also served as inaugural Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, the work of which is now carried on by Reconciliation Australia. According to Dodson:
Reconciliation can mean many different things. It might be as simple as a handshake with your Aboriginal neighbour, or, more broadly, better relations between indigenous communities and other Australians in all the places we share across this land: suburbs, towns and remote settlements; farms and stations; the rivers, lakes and seas; the bush, the mountains and the plains.
Above all, it must mean some form of agreement that deals with the legacies of our history, provides justice for all, and takes us forward as a nation. In the words of our council’s vision, we should walk together towards: 'A united Australia which respects this land of ours; values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage; and provides justice and equity for all'.
Pearl Wymarra, Elder, Gudang clan
The history and vision of Reconciliation Australiawww.reconciliation.org.au In 1991, Australia made a formal commitment to reconciliation by establishing the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (CAR). The role of CAR included encouraging meaningful communication, consultation, cooperation and action between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to provide justice and equity for all. A united Australia which respects this land of ours; values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage; and provides justice and equity for all. Eight key issues for reconciliation identified by the Council were:
- Understanding Country: The importance of land and sea in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies.
- Improving relationships: Better relationships between Aboriginal Australians and the wider community.
- Valuing cultures: Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures as a valued part of Australian heritage.
- Sharing histories: A sense for all Australians of a shared ownership of their history.
- Addressing disadvantage: A greater awareness of the causes of Aboriginal Australians’ disadvantage.
- Responding to custody levels: A greater community response to addressing the underlying causes.
- Agreeing on a document: Advancing the process of reconciliation by a document of reconciliation.
- Controlling destinies: Greater opportunities for Aboriginal Australians to control their destinies.
- historical acceptance
- race relations
- equality and equity
- institutional integrity
ReferencesDodson, P 1996, 'Reconciliation at the crossroads', Address to the National Press Club, April, viewed 18 August 2016, <http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/IndigLRes/car/1996/0104.html>.
Activity: Consider what national and international perspectives relate to the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in contemporary society and how they relate to the world view of Indigenous Australians.
Human Rights policies and resources
Human Rights Commission (2008), Remote indigenous education, Social Justice Report 2008, Chapter 3http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/sj_report/sjreport08/chap3.html
National Native Title Tribunal - What exactly is Native Title?http://www.auroraproject.com.au/what_is_native_title#Useful_resources_about_native_title http://www.nntt.gov.au/nativetitleclaims/Pages/default.aspx
Closing the Gap policyhttps://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-social-justice/projects/close-gap-indigenous-health
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peopleshttps://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/un-declaration-rights-indigenous-peoples-1 Gray, J & Beresford, Q 2008, ‘A formidable challenge: Australia’s quest for equity in Indigenous education’, Australian Journal of Education, vol. 52, no. 2, pp. 197-223. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.922.9687&rep=rep1&type=pdf
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Assessment objectiveDevelop a personal Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
IntroductionFor more than a decade, Reconciliation Australia has supported corporate, not-for-profit and government organisations to develop Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) through its workplace RAPs program. RAPs are practical plans of action built on relationships, respect and opportunities to provide a framework for organisations to realise their vision for reconciliation. In doing so, organisations can work to create social change and economic opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Through its Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning program, Reconciliation Australia has provided an education-based model for action that combines the existing framework (Relationships, Respect and Opportunities) with an education-specific framework featuring actions in the classroom, around the school or early learning service, and with the community. Narragunnawali RAPs support schools and early learning services in making a formal commitment to reconciliation, serving as a practical framework that can be actively implemented to drive positive change. For more information see the What is a RAP? tab on the Narragunnawali platform. While it is important to remember that a RAP represents the actions of an entire organisation, this assessment task is designed to help you think about some of the small but significant actions that you can take as an individual to support reconciliation in your personal life. At the beginning of the semester, you will be advised that part of this unit involves the development of a Personal Reconciliation Action Plan (PRAP). You will be required to submit a PRAP early in the semester. Towards the end of the semester, you will submit a review of what you have been able/not been able to achieve in that time.
Assessment A: Develop a Group Reconciliation Action Plan (GRAP)The plan and its implementation is a group effort underlining that reconciliation initiative is a collective endeavour.
- Submit 3 actions that your group (2-4 members) plans to engage in to support reconciliation, including a timeframe for these actions, to your tutor. Provide a brief report on your experiences/actions, with 250 word reflections on each action.
- Investigate the Reconciliation Australia website for information about RAPs including events at http://www.reconciliation.org.au/
- The RAP should seek to contribute to solving a local reconciliation challenge by building relationships with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Assessment B: Develop a Personal Reconciliation Action Plan (PRAP)
- Submit three actions that you plan to engage in to support reconciliation in your personal life, including a timeframe for these actions, to your tutor.
- A RAP is a commitment to engage in actions within a time frame that will contribute to reconciliation.
- Your task is to commit to 3 actions that will deepen your understanding of how you could contribute to a fairer and more just Australia over the course of the semester.
- When required, submit a brief report on your experiences/actions, with a 250 word reflection on each action. This reflection should include what you were able to do/not do in terms of your plan and discuss any limitations.
Respect, Relationships and ReconciliationThis topic allows you to explore your personal and professional values in relation to the ‘3Rs’: Respect, Relationships and Reconciliation. As Australians who espouse values of mateship, equality and a fair go, it is incumbent on us to reflect on our history in the forming of modern day Australia. We might ask: Who has benefited? Who has been disadvantaged? Importantly, we can reflect on the role we as teachers play in educating the next generation of Australian citizens to come together, to acknowledge our shared history, to understand injustice and what fairness requires of us as a nation in the pursuit of a harmonious and reconciled society founded on respect. Respect is used a great deal in our schools and working through the Respect topic will have given you the opportunity to think deeply about what it involves and how it underpins all our relationships. Respect begins with listening and having the motivation to understand others and their way of being in the world. This is the basis for achieving reconciliation.
Questions for review:
- Do you see respect being the basis in your everyday relationships?
- Does our history bear out the values of mateship, equality and a fair go for all, or just some?
- What do you consider to be the relationship between respect and reconciliation?