Primary key to reconciliation

Twilight Coroborree - Wardarnji Aboriginal Cultural Festival 2008 – Saturday 15 November, Fremantle Esplanade Reserve

ABORIGINAL people will continue to face discrimination until their culture is ingrained in primary school curriculums, says a professor from the Australian Catholic University.

Cheryl Kickett-Tucker says educating the wider community about Aboriginal culture must occur at a young age to overcome a lack of understanding and to increase compassion.

With NAIDOC kicking off this week, Prof Kickett-Tucker acknowledges there have been improvements over the years, but says Australia still has a long way to go before it can truly claim to be a country that’s lucky for all.

Now a director of Aboriginal research company Pindi Pindi, she says the Indigenous community is in a constant battle with poverty and homelessness, a consequence of high unemployment rates due to poor literacy and numeracy levels. Prof Kickett-Tucker sheets that home to “racism and the consistent deficit approach of policy development and service delivery as well as the lack of Aboriginal ownership and control”.

Economic instability subjects many Aboriginal people to a vicious cycle of welfare dependence.

Pindi Pindi has recently signed a deal with Fremantle council to operate from the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre near the Round House in Fremantle, and will be conducting “strength-based research to access knowledge that will make a sustained difference to the holistic wellbeing of Aboriginal people.”

“We’re thrilled to be working in partnership with the city,” Prof Kickett-Tucker says.

“Our centre brings academic research and community wisdom together because our work is embedded within the Aboriginal community.

“We are not attached to a university, the community drive us, as they set our agenda. We are a place for silent voices in the community.”

Another prominent Whadjuk Noongar, Dr Noel Nannup, agrees there’s a long way to go towards reconciliation, but hopes an historic native title settlement with the WA government will be a kick-start.

The $1 billion deal, recently agreed to by six Aboriginal groups covering the south0west of the state, will give signatories increased access to lands, funding for Aboriginal corporations and cash for investing in enterprise.

Dr Nannup hopes it can pave the way for the emergence of a significant indigenous tourism industry.

“Reconciliation at the moment is tolerating Aboriginal people and accepting them as Aboriginals, although there are two key planks missing; firstly the dialogue that has to take place before [reconciliation] is a reality, and secondly the implicitness and collaboration that goes with it.”

The Walyalup centre will commemorate NAIDOC with a week of events including cultural and mosaic workshop, hip-hop demonstrations, a barbie with music and dancers, and Buster the Fun Bus. For more information check out the fremantleaboriginalevents Facebook page.


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