Stolen Generation member slams school lesson
A STOLEN Generation survivor is among shocked critics of a New South Wales school's decision to teach children about the subject by telling them they were being removed from their parents in a frightening role play that reduced some to tears.
St Justin's Catholic Primary School in Oran Park has angered the community after year four students were told by a nun that they were being taken from their parents at the request of the Prime Minister because they weren't being looked after properly.
Distressed children weren't told for five hours that it was only a role play about a part of Australian indigenous history, and that they would be able to go home to their families.
Some children were so frightened they reportedly burst into tears, couldn't eat, and tried to escape at lunchtime.
The incident sparked fury among parents who told Fairfax the exercise was "emotional abuse", and now indigenous educators have weighed in.
Stolen Generation survivor and NT Stolen Generation Aboriginal Corporation spokeswoman Eileen Cummings told news.com.au the way children were being taught about the sensitive topic was inappropriate.
"We weren't taken away because of neglect, we were taken because of the colour of our skin," she said.
"We were taken away because they believed that our people couldn't teach us anything, they wanted to educate us because we were half-caste children."
Ms Cummings said schoolchildren didn't need to be scared or made to feel bad when learning about it this terrible chapter of Australia's history.
"A lot of children are quite disturbed in what they hear, and we say it was something that the government had done in those years," she said.
"It is inappropriate to scare them."
Members of the indigenous community have also responded to the incident on social media.
"I'm aboriginal and my grandfather was a part of the stolen generation, this is absolutely disgusting to be teaching the kids such lies to the point also where they'll fear they'll be taken if they play up. Furious is an understatement right now," Sascha Smith wrote.
Education about the stolen generation in schools was a recommendation of the Bringing Them Home report published 20 years ago.
Chair of the Healing Foundation Professor Steven Larkin told news.com.au the kits, yet to be distributed to school, did not detail any exercises similar to the one that took place at St Justin's.
"The initiative to teach this important part of Australian history is good, but it's new and I guess schools and teachers and parents will have to find ways that it can be taught so that's not going to result in a similar way to what's happened at this unfortunate school," he said.
Prof Larkin said the foundation consulted with Stolen Generation members while compiling the guides.
"Their main concern was that people didn't understand or know their history, so when you've got intergenerational trauma occurring and being a key source of problems that we see in aboriginal society today, people don't draw those connection," he said.
"It's really about different people engaging, having a better understanding of Australia's past. It's not designed to deliver the outcomes we've seen unfortunately at this school who were probably trying to find a way to teach it effectively and now it's backfired."
News.com.au has sought comment from the school.