Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

The apology

[Episode 1 | 2008 : Laura]

Laura and her family are at the community centre to listen to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s address to Indigenous people apologising for decades of government policy that allowed children to be stolen from their families. However, Laura is more concerned with the apology she needs to make to Michaelis.


History

The Australian curriculum: History

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The Australian Curriculum: History aims to ensure that students develop: 

  • interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society 
  • understanding and use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability 
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication.

History activities [4]

Activity 1: The Stolen Generations
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Historical events; Indigenous perspectives
Discover
  • Ask students to discuss the following questions:
  1. What are the Stolen Generations?
  2. Why is the apology significant in Australian history?
  • Refer to Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington Garimara. Students can also view the clip from the feature film at australianscreen, 'Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)', http://aso.gov.au/titles/features/rabbit-proof-fence/clip1
  • [Please note that the clip from Rabbit-Proof Fence is rated PG (parental guidance) and permission should be gained from parents and the school principal before viewing. It is recommended that teachers view all film content before introducing it to students to ensure that it is appropriate for the class.]
  • As a class, review the following websites and the information contained within them about the Stolen Generations:
  1. Australian Human Rights Commission, http://www.hreoc.gov.au
  2. ——'Bringing them home: The "Stolen Children" report (1997)' http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/bth_report/index.html
  3. ——'Bringing them home education module' http://www.hreoc.gov.au/education/bth/index.html
  4. ReconciliACTION Network, http://reconciliaction.org.au
  • If possible, invite a local Indigenous Elder to the school to talk about reconciliation.
  • Ask students to create a graphic organisational chart (a KWL Chart) about the Stolen Generations. A KWL Chart enables students to classify information based on prior knowledge. It will help students to organise information as they gather it and disseminate the data at the end of their research. The three basic areas of classification are:
  1. What I Know
  2. What I Want to know
  3. What I Learned.

Reflect
  • Ask students to research personal accounts of Indigenous people who are part of the Stolen Generations. Collect their stories in an anthology to be displayed and read on National Sorry Day.
  • Visit the National Sorry Day Committee on the website below:
    http://www.nsdc.org.au

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Activity 2: Remembering
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Indigenous perspectives; Politics

In this clip, Laura looks at the faces of family and friends watching the apology at the local community centre and observes their reactions. The expressions on the faces of people in the clip demonstrate strong feelings about it. These facial expressions and gestures are emotional signposts.

Discover
  • Ask students to brainstorm ideas on how both Laura and Aunty Bev are affected by the apology. Student responses can be mapped out on a class poster.

Reflect
  • Ask students to write what they believe are the thoughts of Laura or Aunty Bev about the apology.
  • Construct a hot seat role-play where students take on the role of significant people in the apology. For example, it could be Kevin Rudd, or an Indigenous person in parliament. Students stay in role and answer questions from the class about how they perceived the significance of the apology.

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Activity 3: Government policy
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Indigenous perspectives; Politics

The removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their parents was the accepted practice of state and federal governments. In 1997, the Bringing them home report focused on the practices of government from 1910–1970. On 13 February 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised for the pain caused by decades of state-sponsored mistreatment of Indigenous Australians and the continuing impact on Australian society.

Discover
  • Ask students to research government policies that had a negative impact on Indigenous people. This information can be merged into a timeline to plot significant events affecting Indigenous rights in Australia.
  • As a class discuss the significance of events leading up to the apology.
  • Ask students to research stories and statements in newspapers and magazines from Indigenous people following the apology. Refer to the teachers' notes, activities and worksheets on the website below.
  1. Australian Human Rights Commission, http://www.hreoc.gov.au
  2. ——'Bringing them home, education module', http://www.humanrights.gov.au/education/bth/index.html
  3. ——'Bringing them home Community Guide 2007', http://www.humanrights.gov.au/education/bth/community_guide/index.html

Reflect
  • Share the stories with the class. They can be presented as short essays, or pictorial stories.

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Activity 4: Symbolism
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Historical events; Indigenous perspectives
Discover
  • In the clip, the Aboriginal flag plays a major role, but people also have beads, necklaces, ribbons and arm bands displaying the colours of red, yellow and black. Many Aboriginal people identify with these colours. Research the designer of the flag, Harold Thomas, and collect information on his background.

Reflect
  • As a class, research and discuss the symbolic significance of the colour and shape on the Aboriginal Flag. Ask students to find out where the flag originated and what the design means. Refer to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/fastfacts/AboriginalFlag.html
  • As an extension activity, students could also investigate the meaning and significance of the Torres Strait Islander flag.

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