Australian teachers urged to tackle racism in classroom  

[by Michelle Hele]

Alec Doomadgee with son Zach. Image: supplied

Renowned Aboriginal activist and film director Alec Doomadgee has called for an overhaul of secondary education in Australia to ensure every student has a comprehensive understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.

 

Launching an education toolkit for years eight to ten, Mr Doomadgee said the time was right for young people to become stewards of change.

 

The educational materials grew out of the success of his 2016 documentary, Zach’s Ceremony, which told the story of his son Zach’s cultural initiation.

 

Zach Doomadgee said it was more important than ever to educate Australians about the racism Indigenous people had to deal with every day.

 

“We want to awaken people from within the classroom,” Zach said.

 

“The Black Lives Matter movement has been happening here for 240 years, it's just that white people haven't seen us.

 

“Educating people about our history and what many of us go through every day is the first step toward improving the lives of Indigenous Australians.”

 

Alec worked with the Foundation for Young Australians to create the classroom resource.

 

“This toolkit teaches practical ways to go about finding solutions,” Alec said.

 

“If you believe in truth and finding a better way forward, this is a perfect start to that journey of healing.”

 

Zach said it was confronting to watch his personal struggles played out on the big screen, but it was a message all Australians needed to hear.

 

“The documentary shows just a small part of what it is like to grow up in Australia as an Indigenous person,” he said.

 

“It’s meant to inspire and empower young people and the education toolkit will teach them that culture is a source of strength, it supports our individual and collective health and wellbeing.”

 

The toolkit was aligned to the national curriculum and extended beyond the classroom.

 

“The toolkit can be used in a range of classes to build skills around identity and relationships, as well as historical and cultural understanding,” Alec said.

 

“It’s designed to encourage critical thinking and cultural intelligence, as well as creativity and communication.”

 

Alec, a descendant of the Waanyi, Garawa and Gangalidda people in far north Queensland, said Zach’s Ceremony should be seen by all Australians. “Aboriginal lives matter and Aboriginal stories matter,” he said.

 

Download the free education toolkit and watch Zach’s Ceremony here: zachsceremony.com

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