Sikh history resources made available in Western Australian schools

Australian Sikh history has been included in the Humanities and Social Sciences subjects in WA schools for year 5, 6 and 9.


Source: Photo copyright ASHA

Sikhs have been in Australia for over 150 years, however, their remarkable contribution remains little known.

From this year onward, WA school students will have access to Australia's proud Sikh history, with the development of a resource which has been written to support history curriculum within Humanities and Social Sciences for year 5, 6 and 9 students.

The resources prepared by the History Teachers Association of WA (HTAWA) were launched at the WA History Teachers State Conference held on 18th March 2017 at Fremantle, Perth.

These resources were developed by HTAWA, for the Sikh Association of Western Australia in collaboration with the Australian Sikh Heritage Association.

Tarun Preet Singh from Australian Sikh Heritage Association (ASHA) told SBS that they have the vision to share the historic landmark details of Australian Sikh history with wider Australia community.

“The Sikh contribution towards Australian social capital and history of social connection is secondary to no other community."
“The stories of sweat and plough, toil and labour in Australia for more than 150 years to ingrain the spirit of liberalism and oneness in the potent Australian identity and character will now be shared.”

Listen to Tarun Preet Singh's full interview with 's  (In Punjabi):

ASHA is actively engaged in finding the missing links between Sikh, Indian and Australian history.

Mr Singh told SBS that their interest lies in the people of Sikh faith who called Australia their home in as early as 1850s.

“Adding this historic fabric to WA schools gives us immense pleasure. It is a proud moment and a historic milestone for the community."
“The key points covered in the resource include the rich and vibrant history of Sikhs in Australia.”

“The resources covers various topics including the Sikh beliefs, hardships faced as ‘Aliens, perseverance in their lifestyle, the military connection in Australia from 1885 leading up to Sikh Anzacs – Gallipoli.”

“Additionally, we have chapters on the political Punjab in early 19th century, the battle of Saragarhi, and the most importantly Sikh Indians being part of social fabric through sports, business, farming, social service, etc.”

ASHA members at history conference
Source: Supplied

“We acknowledge and highly appreciate SAWA and HTAWA support to reach this historic landmark in Australian Sikh history.”

"Since the resources are being prepared to suit other states curriculum so the impact will be immense and ongoing for building the image of Sikhs."

"In others words, we are discussing Australian Sikhs’ contribution in 19th – 20th and 21st century."

"The resilience shown by the Sikhs during the 19th century – 20th century and till now is great."

"The journey to the heart of Australia was made possible only after the camels landed in Australia. Australians and others should acknowledge this fact."

"So the invaluable contribution of Sikhs as cameleers – wrestlers – Anzacs – hawkers – enterpreneurs, etc will all be reflected through this resource."

Harjit Singh from the Australian Sikh Heritage Association said that efforts were done to promote Sikh heritage findings among the wider Australian Sikh community.

"By showcasing our proud history, we also wish to show an expression of solidarity with the wider Australian Sikh community."
"Australia is permanently indebted to these souls who faced and flourished against the heaviest of odds."

Source: Supplied

The following information was supplied by SAWA/ASHA.

Did you know?

Sikhs first arrived in Australia at least 180 years ago.

A significant number of cameleers (also known as the afghans") that helped open up central Australia were Sikhs.

Most hawkers and peddlers during Australia's formative years were the much loved and adored travelling Sikhs.

The Sikhs were very active with the wrestling circuit all over Australia in the early part of the 20th century.

There are quite possibly hundreds of Sikh cremation sites across rural Australia. As cremation was not allowed in most Australian states at that time, the continuing cremation by Sikhs brought about a change in the law in most states across Australia which benefited many other communities as well.

Sikhs and Australians fought together on the same side in Gallipoli with at least 16 Sikhs enlisting and serving in the Australian Imperial Force for World War 1.

A Sikh pilot died on Australian soil in WWII Flying Officer Manmohan Singh died in Broome, Western Australia on 3 March 1942 fighting for the Allied forces.

83,005 turban wearing Sikh Soldiers were killed with 109,045 wounded in the last two World Wars.

Facts on Sikhism

Sikh is the world's 5th largest religion, after Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

Is a distinct and unique religion on its own, not a sect of Hinduism or Islam

A religion which originated during the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia

The existence of one God

Guru Granth Sahib Ji - The Spiritual Scripture of Sikhs

'Sikh' in Punjabi means 'disciple'

26 million Sikhs worldwide

-20 million in India

-72,000 in Australia (according to the 2011 census)

90 % of the people wearing TURBANS in Australia are Sikhs.

Male Sikhs have "Singh (Lion), and female Sikhs have "Kaur" (princess) as their middle or last name.

Australian Sikh Heritage Trail Launch
Australian Sikh Heritage Trail Launch Source: Photo SAWA

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5 min read
Published 22 March 2017 at 4:27pm
By Preetinder Grewal