“We acknowledge the traditional and original owners of this continent and pay respect to today’s Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities who are its custodians – including in particular their past, present and future Elders”
Every Australian has a duty to appreciate and understand the origins of their country and the original inhabitants of this land. In conjunction with the history of this supposed ‘Terra nullius’ (Australia), unfortunately arises the concept of reconciliation, due to the poor treatment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people in the past. In order for reconciliation to be successful, education and understanding is required for all Australians. Through a variety of mediums, education and understanding can be achieved. This education starts at the school level. In order for a teacher to be able to design and implement effective teaching strategies and provide opportunities for students to develop in relation to ATSI people, they must first understand the history and culture themselves. We need to gain a respectful understanding and knowledge of Indigenous cultures, histories and modern contexts whilst working in partnership with Indigenous communities.
In order for a teacher to understand the modern life of Indigenous Australians, an understanding of the historical and cultural background of ATSI people is essential. ATSI people have one of the richest and oldest continuing cultures in the world, with estimates that they have inhabited what is now known as Australia for up to 60,000 years before European settlement. They lived with a strong dependence to the land and water and developed location specific skills such as hunting, fishing and gathering. Their way of life was changed dramatically after they were forced to submit to European rule. An understanding of ATSI history can be developed through the mediums below.
The history of ATSI people has demonstrated that there has been a varying degree of disrespect shown towards them since European incursion, up until recent times. In the past, racism and control have belittled ATSI people and in some circumstances taken away their rights. Today, positive steps are being implemented to promote reconciliation.
Reconciliation – “The ending of conflict or renewing of a friendly relationship between disputing people or groups”