Alec Doomadgee on education in schools. Wednesday, 26th Aug, 2020.
Alec Doomadgee on education in schools. Wednesday, 26th Aug, 2020.

Indigenous film director calls for education overhaul

DARLING DOWNS-based Aboriginal activist and film director Alec Doomadgee is calling for an overhaul of the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture is taught in Australian classrooms.

Mr Doomadgee said with the Black Lives Matter movement at the forefront of people's minds, and Aboriginal issues on the front page of newspapers and news outlets across the country, it was the perfect time to talk about solutions and ways to build a better society for all.

"There's no better way forward than to start in the education system because once you capture the minds of the young ones … you'll see that change coming up in 20, 50 years from now," he said.

Mr Doomadgee is launching an educational toolkit for Years 8 to 10 to ensure every student has a comprehensive understanding of Indigenous Australia's history and culture.

The educational materials grew out of the success of his 2016 documentary, Zach's Ceremony, which told the story of his son Zach's cultural initiation.

Zach Doomadgee said it was more important than ever to educate Australians about the racism Indigenous people had to deal with every day.

Alec said the current Australian education system preached a form of denial.

"We're going back to changing the way language is used - for example, the use of the word settlement instead of invasion," he said.

"It was an invasion.

"Arthur Phillip claimed terra nullis - but we know without a doubt there were people here and trading was going on way before (he) turned up.

"The way the education system is set up at the moment, it teaches Indigenous people were nothing but noble savages.

"But First Nations people, native people lived in this country with native ways of living."

He said it was time to talk about people's different life experiences, listen to each other's opinions, and learn together.

"Speaking from lived experience, I'm 44 years old and I was born into a country where my mother was a slave," Mr Doomadgee said.

"I can tell you some things in this country that's not nice to talk about, but it is my truth and it's what I was born into and it's what I lived.

"Up until the late 1980s in Doomadgee, people were slaves.

"It's about using language. My mum was called a domestic. She was hired out by the mission manager to go and work for free on cattle properties and stations.

"If you use the word slave - that's awkward - but she was, she wasn't getting paid."

Mr Doomadgee said the wounds and scars from past wrongs were still open.

"If I can find a way to make sure that we heal from the past injustices and find a way forward through education (that would be good)," he said.

The educational toolkit has been aligned to the national curriculum, and was created with the Foundation for Young Australians.

"The toolkit can be used in a range of classes to build skills around identity and relationships, as well as historical and cultural understanding," he said.

He hopes to create a generation of change.

"I watched a documentary a few years back about Tupac Shakur," he said.

"In it he said I may not be the one to create change, but I hope to spark the mind of the one that does.

"That's what I'm hoping with this educational toolkit, to spark the minds that go on to create the change we all so thoroughly deserve."

You can access the toolkit or watch Zach's Ceremony at

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