• Aboriginal educators have slammed the Federal Educations Minister's comments on the draft national curriculum. (iStockphoto)Source: iStockphoto
A Brisbane mother has tweeted her daughter's class assignment, where children role-play pastoralists and Aboriginal people are shot at as a solution.
Douglas Smith

8 Feb 2021 - 5:53 PM  UPDATED 8 Feb 2021 - 6:00 PM

An Indigenous social media commentator has tweeted an image of her child’s Year 11 history classwork, where a role-playing activity puts colonial pastoralists and Aboriginal people in conflict in a sensitive scenario.   

In the worksheet, the information suggested a hypothetical situation where pastoralists fire their rifles in the air to scare off "thirty Aboriginal people near the water".

The scenario follows another wfter the Aboriginal people have chased off convicts and killed livestock that belonged to the pastoralists. 

Munanjahli, Yugambeh and South Sea Islander woman, Dr Chelsea Watego tweeted the worksheet last week, in an image and caption after her daughter came home to tell her what had gone on at school.  

On Monday, Ms Watego told NITV News that her daughter was “distressed” from the classroom activity. 

“I was angry that my child has to spend time deconstructing colonial violence as it plays out in her classroom and that she can’t just go to school and learn," said Ms Watego.

“To require an Indigenous student to sympathise with that position as if that’s not what we’re required to do every single day in this place, is so deeply violent.”

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Ms Watego also said she asked her daughter what the teacher's response was to a kid suggesting "shooting" the Aboriginal people as a solution, to which her daughter said, "nothing". 

She said her daughter has been struggling to process similar work and events at her school. 

Others who commented on Ms Watego's thread said it was "unacceptable and utterly horrifying" that her child was put in that situation. 

While another person commented and compared the same situation as asking "Jewish kids" to role play "Auschwitz", or the ancestors of ANZACS to role play "Nazi prison camps."

Not an isolated incident 

After Ms Watego's tweet circulated on Twitter, it gained the attention of Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman, Hayley McQuire, who recently co-founded the LearnOurTruth campaign, which is led by the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition

The campaign, which tackles colonial perspectives of history being taught in schools, started last month and is making its way into classrooms across Queensland. 

After reading Ms Watego's tweet, Ms McQuire said it was not an isolated incident in the classroom and created a "false narrative" that Aboriginal people had no right to the land. 

“The way that the activity was written, really favoured the pastoralists view and there was no recognition that actually, this is Aboriginal land. The Aboriginal subjects in this activity are actually sovereign subjects," Ms McQuire said.

“It created that false narrative that somehow pastoralists had a right to this land, or had a right to this country.”

Over the past two years, the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition has been travelling around Australia, talking to Indigenous students about their experience with education. 

Ms McQuire said a common theme they have found is that the history of how Australia was colonised and settled is always being taught from a colonial perspective in mainstream curriculums.

“One of the recurring experiences was, how learning about the history of Australia so often feels like an erasing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples," she said. 

“That has a real impact on whether a young Aboriginal or Torres Strait islander kid feels included in the classroom.” 

She said it was important that history be taught from an Indigenous perspective in mainstream schooling across the country, and that her campaign was working towards making that happen.  

Ms Watego said she has contacted the school to arrange a meeting about the worksheet that was given to her daughter last week. 

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