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NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs backs teaching of Indigenous perspectives of European colonisation in schools

Nina Hendy -

New South Wales Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty, David Harris, has thrown his weight behind a plan for mandatory teaching of Indigenous perspectives of European colonisation of Australia in schools.

The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) wants to push ahead with a new unit on colonisation in a bid to improve the understanding of Aboriginal history and experiences.

The new compulsory content for students between years seven and 10 has been shaped after working in partnership with Aboriginal communities and teaching staff in NSW.

The member for Wyong was sworn into the cabinet in April. He believes the plan will fast-track the nations path toward reconciliation.

"Today's students will become tomorrow's leaders, who will create a more just, equitable and reconciled country for future generations," Mr Harris said.

"My hope is that leaders of the future remember us as the generation who opened ourselves up to Truth-Telling, and who moved us further down the path towards a more just and equitable Australia.

The plan will see students in years seven and eight taught Indigenous perspectives on European colonisation as a core study area, with the changes said to provide students will a more complete range of perspectives in learning about Australia's history.

"Creating change challenges us all to be tangible voices for reconciliation in our everyday lives, at home, at work, at school and amongst our family and friends," Mr Harris said.

"Each of us has the power to be a voice for reconciliation and to have those meaningful conversations and take action where we live, work, learn and socialise."

National Employment Services Australia (NESA) says the planned change recognises the importance of Aboriginal Peoples having a strong and clear role in determining and developing educational policies, including actions and strategies to support students engagement.

NESA CEO Paul Martin said that better consultation is important to ensure that the syllabus reflects the views and teachers and the community.

He has also said the changes to compulsory content will not be at the expense of European history, and the teachings will provide students with a more balanced view of Australian history.

"Alongside out colleagues in schools, NSW is delivering a world-class curriculum that will better support teachers planning lessons and improve student outcomes," Martin said.

"The changes have been developed following broad consultation.

"The benefit of that approach is that teachers will know what to reach and when - and students will understand what they need to know and do."

NESA will conduct two rounds of consultation on the drafts and release final syllabuses in 2024, to be implemented from 2027.

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