• Education Queensland has since apologised and is now reviewing its processes. (NITV News)
Education Queensland has removed a Facebook post depicting Indigenous kids as "trouble makers" after it attracted criticism from the community, including the mother of one of the children pictured.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

6 Sep 2017 - 6:40 PM  UPDATED 7 Sep 2017 - 10:38 AM

The post on the 'Teach Queensland' Facebook page was designed to encourage teachers to work in Aboriginal communities. 

It featured a teacher, surrounded by Indigenous kids, with the quote: "I always had a soft spot for the trouble-makers, the misunderstood, the kid that everyone thought wouldn't make it". 

Dr Chelsea Bond, an academic at the University of Queensland, told NITV News she was shocked to see her son's image used in the post. 

"He’s actually the kid who outperforms academically, so it was kind of funny, like how removed is our reality from the stories that are produced about us?" she says. 

"What annoyed me was that I’m his mother. I believe in him, I know he’s going to make it... he’s misunderstood by the Education Department, not by us.

"This is not just demeaning to my child, it’s demeaning to the family who love him, who don’t need the white saviour to rescue him from himself and the people who love him." 

Dr Bond says the post sends an all-too-familiar message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids. 

"This is a familiar thing for us – I don’t think it’s unique to Education Queensland," she says.

"It’s not uncommon for us just to be thought of as props to a particular kind of narrative. We’re not real people with real stories, with real families.

"The fact that they used kids who are painted up in traditional gear is even more telling – that they needed to remind us, and ensure that we knew that when they were talking about troublesome kids, they were talking about the Aboriginal kids.

"So the ways in which this image is working tells us something about how race works, how knowledge is produced about Indigenous peoples every day that tells us that we are less than." 

The image, published on the eve of Indigenous Literacy Day, was widely criticised on social media. 

Teach Queensland has since removed the post and issued an apology.

"The Department of Education and Training apologises unreservedly for the offence caused by a recent post to its ‘Teach Queensland’ Facebook site," a departmental spokesperson said in a statement to NITV News. 

"The post has been removed and the Department is in the process of contacting families of students in the image and responding to members of the public who raised concerns.

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"The officers concerned have been counselled and required to undertake cultural awareness training."

However, at the time of printing Dr Bond was yet to hear directly from the Department of Education and Training, or Inala State School, where the image was taken years ago. 

"When you violate our children, you need to come and speak to us directly," she says.

"The fact that they haven’t thought to do that... reinforces to us how they imagine our children as belonging to no one.

"These are the same people that we entrust our kids with every day."

While she harbours no blame against the teacher pictured, Dr Bond hopes the incident will be a turning point for Education Queensland. 

"What I hope they would do is not just take away the image and the story, but learn from this and re-think how they think about our kids, how they think about our capabilities."