Speaker strikes a chord

AFI Award winning writer and director Richard Frankland encouraged teachers to recognise students' cultural backgrounds, in a speech to Aboriginal Members Conference.

Keynote speaker Richard Frankland (right) demonstrated to Mitchell Cooper the cultural load students bring to school. Photo by Amanda James

Julie Moon
Relieving Editor

AFI Award winning writer and director Richard Franland encouraged teachers to recognise students' cultural backgrounds, in a speech to Aboriginal Members Conference. Listen, learn, respect, integrity, honour, compassion and courage are principles that Richard Frankland wants Aboriginal and nonAboriginal Australians to base their lives on. The renowned playwright, director, songwriter and activist shared his beliefs in an engaging and thought-provoking keynote speech at the Aboriginal Members Conference on May 18.

Mr Frankland, a proud Gunditjmara man, bases his music and storytelling on his life experiences, including his time as a field officer during the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. This was the catalyst for his acclaimed play Who Killed Malcolm Smith?

The Koorreen Principles 

Richard Frankland has written his credo to life, the Koorreen Principles. 

They are:

Listen to the earth, waters and others so you may learn.

Learn from all you hear, see and feel. This will inform you on who you are and who you can be.

Respect all living things and beings to enable them to respect you.

Integrity — conduct yourself and act honestly at all times so that others may learn from you.

Honour the great spirit, the property of others and your own life path.

Compassion — have compassion for others so that you learn to be graceful with your spirit.

Courage — have courage to act in all of the above and to know when you have made mistakes so that you know when to have humility.




 He told the conference that the cultural load Aboriginal students bring with them to school has an impact on their potential and progress. Mr Frankland congratulated the teachers who had gathered from across the state for the contribution they make to their students’ success. He said they were “heroes who could write the curriculum in their own eyes” to assist Aboriginal students achieve positive outcomes.Responding to Mr Frankland’s address, a group of young activists at the conference said they see every day at school as a journey — sometimes taking great steps forward and sometimes having to contend with what appeared to be a backward step. They are proud to be positive role models for their students, helping to build their self-esteem. One member, who is a careers advisor, said she takes great pride in being able to organise work placements for all her students and assist those who aspire to university placements.

Mr Frankland’s original address and moving musical performance earned a standing ovation from the delegates.