Including local Black Diggers’ stories when teaching history is a good way to introduce Aboriginal perspectives, Department of Education and Communities learning and engagement officer Alison Johnstone told Federation’s Friday Forum on April 4.
For decades Australia did not recognise Aboriginal Diggers’ service and Ms Johnstone is keen to assist teachers to develop their own units of work that tell the stories of their local Black Diggers/returned Aboriginal soldiers.
She said that through these stories and lessons Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children would get a deeper understanding and knowledge of what happened (see below).
She spoke of “telling the true history through our eyes, so that we can tell our children, so they can tell it again through their eyes, and generation through generation we can break down the ignorance in society”.
Local Aboriginal Education Teams will workshop with teachers to show them how to develop units of work with a local perspective.
Workshops cover how to approach the local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, parents, the RSL, community groups and elders to get the true histories of the local community.
Ms Johnstone encourages teachers to identify local families and local government representatives to identify the local Aboriginal men and women who served in Australia’s theatres of war.
Aboriginal activist and member of the Black Diggers Indigenous Reference Group Pastor Ray Minniecon said the story of the Black Diggers had been suppressed for too long.
“You people at the educational forefront of this battle for recognition are in the most appropriate place to ensure that this story is not lost to future generations,” he said.
“Yes we can do our marches in the street — that’s easy — yes we can have all the plays under the sun, but unless it’s in the curriculum.
“We’ve got to break through the flamin’ racism in this country in order to get this story into the textbooks.”