Celebrating Aboriginal Studies Showcase following Reconciliation Week

IGS Year 12 Compressed Aboriginal Studies students were thrilled to hand in their major works during Reconciliation Week.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were unable to celebrate their work in an exhibition at School, but we are excited to showcase their work online.

We thank Aboriginal Studies Teacher and Indigenous Students Academic Mentor Jade Carr for her leadership.

Congratulations to each and every student for their original and informative work.

Indigenous Land and Fire Management Teaching Kit

After embarking on the Red Earth Immersion trip, Isabel Whitaker felt inspired to learn more about Aboriginal history.

“My favorite topic so far has been Aboriginality and the land,” Isabel said.

“My major work is a Teaching Kit for Stage 4 students. It achieves two out of the three cross-curriculum priorities meaning it can be applied to all key learning areas. It involves a workshop plan, a PowerPoint, a Kahoot, a Yarning Circle sheet, a Teachers Fact Sheet, eight-way pedagogy activity cards and “I used to think, but now I think” cards.

The process involved a lot of research and consultation with the community, both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous. I explored the value of Indigenous Fire Management in contemporary society specifically its use in response to the recent bush fires in Australia.”

Identity

“I picked this course as I wanted to know more about the first peoples of this land and their history,” Anya Haywood said.

“I’ve realised after this course that public preconceptions of Indigenous peoples are largely based upon a negative narrative as they are not educated correctly on Indigenous life. 

“Prior to this course, I too barely knew anything about Australian Indigenous peoples culture and lives. I decided to pick the compressed course instead of the two-year course as I wanted to challenge myself.

“I found the heritage and identity portion of this course to be my favourite thus far. It was interesting to learn about how government policies and separation from a culture has a great effect on identity and on future generations.”

Anya’s Major Work focused on Aboriginal identity and how a deficit discourse mindset, stereotyping, racism and a negative narrative can impact it.

“I wanted to look at how identity is challenged by a non-Indigenous society and how these identity issues can be resolved,” she said.
Using her passion for music, Anya created three songs that demonstrated her findings.

“The process to create these songs was tedious, enjoyable and at times frustrating, but it is very satisfying to have a finished product I am proud of.”

How do Indigenous artists use their occupation to express their Aboriginality?

As an artist herself, Eva workman chose her topic because it was relatable.

“I found it empowering to research such established artists,” she said.

“I found that art is very important for exploration and helps share a cultural identity. I found that this topic is important, as, in a political environment where indigenous voices aren’t heard, art helps share and empower indigenous voices across a multitude of platforms and raises awareness.”

“Art is the future of indigenous representation that is a stand against racist suppression.”

Eva said there is still more exploration she wishes to do and wants to go deeper into her subject matter.

Accountability: Assessing the Connection between Government Ideology and Indigenous Recidivism Rates in NSW Prisons

“I was very interested in the treatment of Aboriginal People in Australia as well as Australia’s Shared Histories,” Zara Lily Upfold said.

“I thought that by taking Aboriginal Studies, I would be able to learn more about the contextual factors shaping the world around me. And using that knowledge, I would be able to understand and connect with as many Australians as possible, better.”

Zara said that each lesson has shaken her perception of Non-Indigenous culture and broadened her perception of Indigenous culture.

“Learning about concepts such as ethnocentrism has been enlightening. And learning about Connection to Country and Native Title has greatly developed my learning.”

“My Major Project is an essay that argues that the NSW Prison System is not benefitting Aboriginal People, that it is in fact, doing the opposite. In the essay, I deconstruct three key government purposes of sentencing, proving why they are not being applied correctly. The essay also provides a mix of perspectives as well as advice on how to change.”

Bush Garden and stage 2 sustainability

Since participating in Red Earth, Nancy Bertoli knew Aboriginal Studies is something she wanted to pursue.

“Each topic is interesting in their own way. Personally I think it is so important that everyone learns these things in order to create open mind-sets amongst all generations and to close the gap,” she said.

“I chose to research the topics of Aboriginal Land Management, and the effects on the land when we do not consult with Aboriginal peoples.

Nancy made a garden on the School rooftop to demonstrate the importance of Aboriginal Land Management.

“I also had a component in which I related my project to the sustainability unit in year 4, and I compiled a number of teaching resources. The Year 4 Teachers can use these in order to incorporate Aboriginal Land management into their unit, under the cross-curriculum learning priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Histories and Cultures.”

“Aboriginal people know this land better than anyone, and the management process from other places will not work here. I chose to research this due to its prevalence in contemporary Australia. Things such as the horrific fires of last summer, and sustainability.”

LGBTQ + Aboriginal Mental Health

Tiger Christensen chose the accelerated Aboriginal Studies class because it was a mixture of creative and content based work. He also wanted the opportunity to learn about Aboriginal culture.

“The Stolen Generations is something that you hear about a lot in Australia, but it is usually from a white perspective or at least filtered through a white perspective. In class I got to understand the impacts and implications such events had on the Aboriginal populations then and now,” Tiger said.

“My project was an investigation into the experiences of queer Aboriginal people with mental health and the services they are provided. I first looked at the mental health statistics for queer people and Aboriginal people compared to the rest of the Australian population, and then I looked into the services catered specifically towards the intersection between the communities and reached out to as many as I could,” he said.

“I also reached out to individuals in the community and conducted interviews where I asked their opinions on the resources available to their community and their own experience with mental health.

“Once I had enough consultations I compiled them onto a website and evaluated the response.”

The Invasion of Traditional Knowledge: Bush Medicine in the Commercial Age

“I knew I wanted to do this course before going into Year 11,” Ava Jenkin.

“This country’s Indigenous history is not something we learn about in High School History classes, and I have always felt that it is an ignored subject of importance.

“The major work aspect of this course was also very appealing, as it allows for a lot of freedom of choice.

“Social justice is a huge theme throughout this course, and our tasks on government policy and learning about the nature of intergenerational trauma has been very emotional, but highly important and interesting. Learning about injustices that would otherwise go unlearnt in other courses has also inspired career paths for my future.”

For her major work, Ava wrote a  report about traditional knowledge surrounding Indigenous bush medicines.

“I explored how colonial experiences and attitudes have affected the commercial process, and how faults in consulting Indigenous communities has led to exploitation,” she said.

“The most enjoyable aspect of the major work has definitely been talking with communities. I learned the most invaluable knowledge by traveling to North Stradbroke Island and to Coffs Harbour to talk to Indigenous Elders, and it was an irreplaceable experience to be met by such wise people who encouraged their traditional knowledge to be passed on for cross-cultural education.”

‘their country, their identity’

Eve Mitchell James chose to study the Accelerated Aborginal Studies course because she had the desire to learn more about Aboriginal culture.

For her Major Project, Eve explored the topics of constitution and governmental policies, connection to country, and identity.

“I connected all these themes through exploring how the Australian constitution and subsequent governmental policies have impacted aboriginal peoples connection to country and how in turn this has impacted their sense of identity,” she said.

“The process of my major work first involved researching the different topics, then interviewing a range of Aboriginal people regarding these issues, then creating a work which I thought represented these ideas.

“The final work I created was a series of charcoal drawings, I chose the material of charcoal as it is a material made from plant and animal material, I think that the use of material links in well with the idea of connection to country. I made portraits of some of the people who I interviewed, these portraits paired with the individuals totem(s). I decided to incorporate totems in my final work as they can be thought of as a physical embodiment of connection to country, this paired with portraits suggests the strong link between country and identity. Along with the works I put quotes from the interviews which I conducted, these quotes explore the themes of constitution and governmental policies.”

The Butterfly Effect

Allegra Welsh has always enjoyed studying and learning humanities and has most enjoyed learning about social justice and human rights in the Aboriginal Studies course.

Her Major Work was an Investigation Into the Lasting Effects of Colonial Attitudes Throughout History on Contemporary Australian Society.

“The main topics discussed were the impacts of early colonisation on Aboriginal people, government policies, legislation and their impacts on Aboriginal people, legal decisions and protests and their impact on Aboriginal people, and an insight into Australian society today,” she said.

“To complete it I had to do a lot of research, whatever consultation I could find given the circumstances and write close to 20,000 words.”

Food fusion: Italian and Native Australian

While travelling abroad in Year 8, someone asked Charlotte Venning various questions about Aboriginal culture, and she was shocked with how little she knew. She chose to study Aboriginal Studies at IGS to deepen her knowledge.

“I think the major work is probably the thing I’ve enjoyed the most as I could do something that I connected with and grew up with. Food culture which for me is extremely important and a big part of connecting to my Italian culture, I learnt so much and got to meet so many amazing people throughout the project,” Charlotte said.

As part of her Major Project Charlotte made a recipe book that was a fusion between Italian and Native Australian.

“I then explored the ingredients, their health benefits and uses, Dreaming stories, articles about communities starting up in the bush food industry,
and I also looked at the National Native Bushfood symposium which had the key objectives they are working on. I basically based my project on this.”

Distant Memory

“I want to be an instigator in the future of Indigenous Australian rights and freedoms, and education and perspective are necessary aspects of that,” Zoe Varga said.

Zoe said she has enjoyed learning about the socioeconomic factors improving or debilitating Indigenous health, and the comparative studies we’ve done on International Indigenous communities.

“Exploring a global community and recognising those issues in modern society, (and where they originated from) are so important and key to improvement,” she said.

“I wanted to explore the Invasion of Australia through a visual medium of landscapes. By stripping back my processes and constructing analysis through my individual perspective and Indigenous artists’, I wanted to educate myself and portray that process.

“I aimed to generate an artwork that allowed for a constructive view of the permanent changes made to our landscapes, and the room for growth within my own limited perspective.”

Zoe used natural materials including wood, inks, carvings and paper to illustrate visual cues of a 3-dimensional landscape.

“The process was strenuous and moderately difficult but ultimately I was proud of my final product.”