This section is designed to highlight some of the issues around teaching/learning in Indigenous Studies and to provide some resources to help teachers in planning and programming.
What is Indigenous Australia?
Indigenous Australia is the term used to describe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia. The term Indigenous means ‘first’ and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the first peoples of Australia.
Indigenous Australia is a multicultural society. It’s not one group of people, there is not one language, nor religious belief. There are many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout Australia today and all of these people have different thoughts, ideas, beliefs on how things came about, how things should be done. There is no one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture. It’s a mixture of contemporary and traditional thoughts, ways and practices. This has always been the case.
Confronting the Myths
As a teacher you will be confronted with your own, your students’ and your community’s attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes about Australia, its histories and all of its peoples.
You might explore the ways in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are viewed and portrayed in your community. Some of your students will have preconceived notions about Indigenous Australians of which you will become aware as you explore the issues.
In some states in Australia, it is now mandatory for Aboriginal Studies to be taught in our schools. Indigenous Studies should be taught not only as a separate subject, but also an integral part of everyday teaching.