Download a copy of Indigenous Perspectives in the National Curriculum - Five Fast Facts.
1. Indigenous perspectives are one of three ‘cross-curriculum dimensions’ in the national curriculum.
The draft of the new national curriculum, to be delivered to all schools nationally once it has been finalised, has three ‘cross-curriculum dimensions’. These wide-ranging topic areas are linked in to subject matter throughout the curriculum. The three key areas are ‘Indigenous perspectives’, ‘Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia’ and ‘commitment to sustainable living’. These dimensions have been chosen as important areas of knowledge for students going through school in contemporary Australia. The dimensions are not included in every class and in some years they have a stronger focus than others. Having Indigenous perspectives as a dimension of the curriculum means that Indigenous history, cultures, books, stories, art and knowledge of the land are taught to all Australian children. This hasn’t always been the case with the current State-based system.
2. Students from Kindergarten to Year Ten will have Indigenous perspectives included in their History, English and Science curriculum each year.
Scattered across three of the four subjects (History, English and Science - Maths is excluded) there will be content focusing on Indigenous cultures, languages, knowledge, history and events in classes from Kindergarten (or Prep) to Year Ten. In Year One, for example, the science curriculum includes a unit called ‘science and culture’, where students learn about the science knowledge of other cultures (including Indigenous peoples) through looking at traditional plant-based ‘bush’ medicines. In Year Three history, students are asked to identify different points of view by reading or listening to an historic story and answering questions about the thoughts and feelings of the person in that story. In Year Ten students look at the struggle for Indigenous rights in Australia through examining such events as the Wave Hill walk-off, the 1967 referendum and the Mabo decision.
3. Indigenous perspectives are just one component of the new curriculum.
Indigenous perspectives are an important part of the new national curriculum, but the main focus is on general capabilities. The general capabilities are the building blocks of learning including; literacy, numeracy, thinking skills, and communication and information technology. There is also a strong focus on the Asia-Pacific region and the place of Australia and Australian history in a global context.
4. Schools will be able to use local content and make local connections.
While it is a national curriculum, and students all around the country will be taught the same subject areas, there is much scope in the Indigenous perspectives dimension for local information to be included. For example in primary school, students are taught to think about history through local place names, including Indigenous place names. In English, students are encouraged to think about other texts apart from written material—like oral stories—through inviting a local Elder to the class to speak.
5. Yes, Sorry Day is mentioned in the same subject unit as Anzac Day but they’re not ranked in importance.
There has been a lot of discussion in the media about the mention of Sorry Day alongside Anzac Day in the curriculum. The reporting of this issue has suggested that children are being taught that the days are of equal importance. This does not accurately reflect the draft curriculum. Both days are used as examples for students to consider why certain events are commemorated and how they’ve come to be important. In the Kindergarten history curriculum there is a topic called ‘personal and family stories’, where children look at how families commemorate past events that are important to them by, among other things, talking about commemorative events such as birthday parties, religious festivals (eg Christmas, Hanukah, Ramadan), family reunions and community commemorations (Anzac Day, Sorry Day). In Grade Three history students look at reasons for particular days being marked as celebrations, or as commemorations of events of national significance including; Australia Day, Anzac Day and Sorry Day.
For more information about Indigenous perspectives , what they are and why they’re important to reconciliation, read Reconciliation Australia’s Q & A Factsheet Indigenous Perspectives in Australian Schools.