Tuesday March 29: World Vision supports the Federal Opposition’s announcement of plans to employ 60 First Nations Educators who will teach language in primary schools and share knowledge of local cultures across the curriculum, through classes like art, science and storytelling.
“There are more than 250 First Nations’ languages in Australia, but they are not well known, especially outside First Nations communities,” Wiradjuri man and World Vision’s Senior First Nations Policy Advisor, Dr Scott Winch said.
“Learning a local First Nations’ language is a great way for primary school students to connect with and learn from traditional owners. I can’t think of a better way to develop skills while also developing relationships across cultures – it’s a win-win which benefits everyone.
“This program will help build stronger and more in-depth knowledge for kids about local ecosystems of the country on which their schools are located. There are also great educational benefits for improved learning outcomes for all children when a second language is learnt.”
The new policy, launched today by the Shadow Education Minister, Tanya Plibersek and Shadow Assistant Education Minister Graham Perrett, is a key ask of the Know Your Country campaign which calls for all political parties to support First Nations Cultural Educators in every primary school.
“We view today’s announcement as a positive first step in introducing local kids to First Nations’ languages and we’ll be advocating that this policy is expanded over time to reach more children,” said Dr Winch, who co-chairs the Know Your Country coalition.
“It’s incredibly powerful for young people to learn about the history and language of this land. It is also vital for authentic learning of language, culture and perspective of the world’s oldest living civilisation, that all Australian primary school children be able to learn directly from local First Nations people.
“In this, the first year of UNESCO’s International Decade of Indigenous Languages, this policy highlights to First Nations people, that our cultures and languages are recognised and valued by the education system. I know how much it would mean to me personally if schools taught my language, but it’s also an extremely important policy for addressing the Closing Gap target 16: Cultures and languages are strong, supported and flourishing.
“It’s also pleasing that First Nations people will be supported and properly remunerated to share their language with school students.”
Dr Winch said for the policy to work, schools would need to be made culturally ready, and First Nations educators feel supported and safe.
World Vision Australia is a foundation member of Know Your Country.
“The Know Your Country campaign’s approach would reach well beyond the classroom as children became better versed in the richness of the Indigenous culture, languages and people of the First Nations Country on which they live,” Dr Winch said.