First Nations kids could learn about the impacts of colonisation and invasion in their classrooms for the first time under proposed changes to the national schooling curriculum.
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority released draft changes to a broad range of subjects in the national curriculum — including English, Science, Math, and the Humanities.
The changes stem from a review by an ACARA Indigenous advisory group which found “outdated” ideas did not reflect calls for truth-telling and inclusive language, including broadening terminology to include First Nations Australians as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
The review called for greater recognition of the connection to Country, land and seas and the impact of colonisation, dispossession, with the refresh comparing and examining existing curricula in New Zealand, British Columbia, Singapore, and Finland.
National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition's coordinator Haley McQuire welcomed the move saying First Nations people had been pushing for change for decades.
'We're ecstatic that this is happening," the Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman told NITV News.
Changes reflect 'true history'
She said changing the curriculum to embed different perspectives could lead to a deeper understanding of the nation's shared history.
"[It goes] beyond just reconciliation, this is really about justice - telling the truth about history and really grounding young people in the foundations of this country is essential to our future," Ms McQuire explained.
Ms McQuire said history was often politicised, but that it is about preparing young people for the future, and how that shapes broader society.
"We need them to really know how our systems and structures came to be and be honest about the experiences that First Nations people had during colonisation and how that shapes the experiences of all Australians today."
ARCA chief executive expects 'healthy debate'
ACARA chief executive David de Carvalho said the proposed changes would provoke debate and spark conversations in the community.
"It's obviously going to be contested, not just in this area but across other subjects as well. And that's a healthy thing that we have these debates," he said.
Mr de Carvalho said exposing students to different perspectives and ideas is vital to ensuring a richer understanding of our history.
"It's important that all Australian students have the ability to discuss these important issues and understand these core concepts," Mr de Carvalho said.
The current national curriculum has been in place since 2015 and is reviewed every six years.
The proposed changes are open for public consultations and will then need to be signed off by state and territory education ministers.
In a statement, federal Indigenous Affairs minister Ken Wyatt said: "It is important that all Australian students are provided the opportunity to learn about the depth, wealth and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 65,000 year old history and cultures, and we want to ensure teachers are appropriately supported to embed Indigenous Australian perspectives in their classroom practice."
The refreshed curriculum is expected to be finalised by next year.