Australian ‘History’ Must Cover 60,000 Years

The Healing Foundation urges all schools to teach the Stolen Generations story and Australia’s full history.

The Healing Foundation is urging all Australian schools to include the story of the Stolen Generations in their curriculum to ensure students have a better understanding of the full history of Australia, which dates back more than 60,000 years.

As schools prepare for the 2021 year, they are encouraged to incorporate The Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Resource Kit for Teachers and Students into their curricular. The kit provides schools with a free resource that communicates the full history of Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a safe and age-appropriate way.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said Australia’s history dates back more than 60,000 years and is rich with stories of the oldest continuous culture on Earth.

The story of the Stolen Generations provides context and meaning for the struggles and inequities that First Nations peoples have faced since colonisation,” Ms Petersen said.

The traumatic impact of historical child removals continues to affect Stolen Generations survivors and their families today, but until now very little has been taught in schools.

The grief and trauma that resulted from historical child removals is deep, complex and ongoing, and it is compounded when unacknowledged or dismissed for a sanitised version of history.

Sharing the ongoing impacts that colonisation has had on Stolen Generations survivors and their families, and honouring their lived experience, is an important part of healing for survivors.

It’s also an important part of healing for Australia more broadly as a mature nation that can engage in meaningful conversations about our shared past.

These conversations will enable us to walk together to a better future. This includes sharing this history with our children so they can have a full understanding of our real history and its present-day impacts.”

The Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Resource Kit for Teachers and Students was created with Stolen Generations survivors, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous teachers, parents, early childhood specialists and curriculum writers. It makes it easy for school communities to start the conversation using facts, real examples, and stories.

Since the launch of the kit in March 2019, more than 13,000 lesson plans for Foundation to Year 9 have been downloaded from The Healing Foundation website.

Lesson plans focus on the stories, music, poetry, dance, art and writing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are survivors or descendants of the Stolen Generations.

The emphasis in each year level has been to show that, while the impacts of colonisation are still being felt, they are also being overcome, and that First Nations peoples and cultures are strong and enduring.

The nation’s young people can also become informed on what every Australian’s role could be in intergenerational healing.

Recommended lesson plans include:

  • Foundation Year – students experience the art and music that shows the healing journeys of Stolen Generations survivors and descendants. Students understand that policies made before they were born still affect people today and that those people are still living and healing.
  • Year 1 – students learn more about the oral storytelling tradition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and listen to a story from a Stolen Generations survivor. They engage with the story through a sequenced retell.
  • Year 2 – students listen to a story of a Stolen Generations survivor and respond to the storyteller with a personal letter. They work in groups to consider the important symbolism of artwork created in response to the stories of Stolen Generations survivors.
  • Year 3 – students undertake their own guided research to learn more about the Stolen Generations through a variety of primary and secondary sources. They analyse a song and create an interpretive movement piece in response to the song.
  • Year 4 – students complete a timeline of significant dates in Australian and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history. They understand how recent some of the policies and events were and gain context by comparing their own personal timeline for themselves and their family.
  • Year 5 – students learn more about the importance of country/place to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and consider the ongoing effects of being removed from country/place. They study contemporary poetry and work in groups to gain more knowledge.
  • Year 6 – students study the ongoing impacts on Stolen Generations survivors by learning about intergenerational trauma. They look closely at firsthand case studies and analyse statistics, using this information to create posters and presentations.
  • Year 7 – students respond to interviews with Stolen Generations survivors and engage with their stories by writing a diary entry. They create an advertisement for a video by The Healing Foundation and consolidate their learning by writing a persuasive letter to the Minister for Education calling for compulsory education on the Stolen Generations in all schools.
  • Year 8 – students learn more about National Sorry Day and National Reconciliation Week. They watch an interview with a Stolen Generations survivor and respond to the video by writing a nomination for the Elder to be recognised for a reconciliation award. Students watch segments from television and consider the role of non-Indigenous people in reconciliation.
  • Year 9 – students respond to dance pieces, compare artworks and analyse performance poetry. They consider the historical, social, and cultural importance of these pieces to write and perform their own slam poetry pieces.

Lesson plans for Years 10-12 are currently in the final stages of development and testing.

The Healing Foundation will continue to work with schools and Stolen Generations survivors to update and expand the kit over the year.

You can download the schools kit for free at healingfoundation.org.au/schools/

To raise awareness about Stolen Generations ahead of Australia Day, The Healing Foundation is sharing this animation about the impacts of intergenerational trauma: youtube.com/watch?v=vlqx8EYvRbQ&t

The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to heal trauma caused by the widespread and deliberate disruption of populations, cultures, and languages over 230 years. This includes specific actions like the forced removal of children from their families.