Funds for Stolen Generation classes


Photo By Michael Loke

Aboriginal Dot Painting (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Kate Purnell, Reporter

The Healing Foundation is accepting grant applications from schools nationwide to assist with teaching students about the Stolen Generation. Grants of up to $700 are available, and resource kits designed for Pre-Primary to Year 9 students are supplied.

The organisation is dedicated to working with communities nationally to educate people about the sufferings Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders have been, and still are subject to. Through educating the population and providing forums for the affected to be heard, the organisation hopes to ease the pain of the Indigenous community.

Chief Executive Officer of the Healing Foundation, Richard Weston, said the kit “will make it easy for schools to start conversations and inform classroom discussions using facts and real stories.”

The resource kits have been developed in consultation with members of the Stolen Generation, giving first hand perspective on the events. Additionally, Indigenous and non-Indigenous teachers, early childhood workers and curriculum experts have contributed to creating the kits.

According to the Chairman of the First Nations Foundation, Ian Hamm, integrating education packages into the Australian school system is effective in assisting the healing process for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

Chair of the Healing Foundation Professor, Steven Larkin explained, “most Australians have a great deal to learn about” the Stolen Generation, but proposed “the best way to turn that around is to start educating our kids about it”.

Aunty Lorraine Peeters is a member of the Stolen Generations Reference Committee at the Healing Foundation, who provided first-hand insight for the education kits. In her case study for the Healing Foundation Peeters recalled being forcibly taken to the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls at the age of four.

“We were brainwashed to act, speak, dress and think white and we were punished if we didn’t,” Peeters explained. The loss of language and culture in the homes Peeters described has notably affected her mentally later on in life.

“When you’ve been through as much as we have, the trauma can easily be reactivated by those who don’t understand it,” Peeters said in her case study. She recommends specialised education and training to help ease the trauma. Peeters won the 2009 NSW Senior Australian of the Year.

Also on the Healing Foundations Stolen Generations Reference Committee is Florence Onus, who draws attention to intergenerational trauma stemming from decades of cruel treatment. Onus proposed education is a crucial step in the healing process for those affected by the Stolen Generation policies.

On intergenerational trauma, Peeters said behaviour is mimicked and adopted in households, therefore, if Indigenous children observe their parents or elder’s anxiety, fear or “drinking to numb the pain” it is possible they will adopt these practices.

The WA Department of Education previously ran the Aboriginal Perspectives Across Curriculum project, (APAC) which actively sought involvement from teachers and schools to develop an understanding of Indigenous Australian history.

While the APAC project has now concluded, teachers and schools can get the materials it provided on request.

Aboriginal and Intercultural Studies is a subject available to study at the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) level in years 11 and 12, and Aboriginal Language courses can be studied at an examinable or non-examinable level, according to the WA Department of Education. Political, social, historical, legal and environmental perspectives are taught in the subject.

The Healing Foundation has four specific projects dedicated to WA. These are the Yorgum Aboriginal Corporation, Marinwarntikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource Centre Aboriginal Corporation, The Bringing Them Home Committee WA Inc and the Kimberley Stolen Generation Aboriginal Corporation.

The projects focus on healing, addressing intergenerational trauma, and Stolen Generation pain.

The grant applications are due on 10 April 2019, you can apply here.

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