Indigenous Perspectives in the study of History
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Indigenous Perspectives in the study of History. Jess Kortum and Jon Davies. Problems and Opportunities. Since 1788 most history taught in our schools has been from a Eurocentric point of view. Through including Indigenous perspectives, there is a hope to redress the balance.

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Indigenous perspectives in the study of history

Indigenous Perspectives in the study of History

Jess Kortum and Jon Davies

Problems and opportunities

Problems and Opportunities

  • Since 1788 most history taught in our schools has been from a Eurocentric point of view.

  • Through including Indigenous perspectives, there is a hope to redress the balance.

  • Should consider both post and pre-contact experience of Indigenous Australians

  • Should be included in all subjects, but perhaps History is the most suitable

Problems and opportunities1

Problems and Opportunities

  • Should include perspectives of Indigenous people today, not necessarily museum model

  • Include local communities and local indigenous knowledge, (research on local indigenous Histories: student as historian)

  • Work out what you and the students already know

  • Doesn’t have to be confined to one unit, can be embedded within many topics, Indigenous soldiers during WW1

  • Need to be ready to confront bias and latent racism

Unit 4 australian history area of study 2 debating australia s future 1960 2000

Unit 4: Australian HistoryArea of Study 2: Debating Australia's future 1960–2000

Outcome 2

Evaluate the extent to which changing attitudes are evident in Australian’s reactions to significant social and political issues. Examination of changing attitudes at TWO significant points in time, in the context of:

Attitudes to Indigenous rights (The 1967 Referendum and The 1972 Tent Embassy in Canberra)

Unit 2 koorie history area of study 3 the struggle for rights 1967 referendum

Unit 2: Koorie HistoryArea of study 3: The Struggle for rights, 1967 Referendum

Outcome 3

Explanation of a campaign or action for Koorie rights

Indigenous perspectives in the study of history


The 1967 Referendum Sample Unit - Level 6

The unit links primarily to the domains of:

History (Level 6)

Civics and Citizenship (Levels 5 and 6)

Thinking Processes (Levels 5 and 6)

Communication (Levels 5 and 6).

Indigenous perspectives in the study of history

Indigenous perspectives in the study of history


Faith bandler an indigenous perspective

Faith Bandler- an IndigenousPerspective

Co-founded the Aboriginal Australian Fellowship in 1956

From 1957, she was instrumental in the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders’ campaign for a national referendum to change the Constitution.

Class discussion

Class Discussion

  • After viewing the video about Faith Bandler – 1967 Referendum, discuss the following:

    • Describe the way in which Aboriginals were controlled and governed in Australia immediately before the 1967 referendum.

      2) Comment on the situation Aboriginals had to live with if they crossed state borders. How did this compare with the situation for newly arrived immigrants to Australia?

      3) Define the way(s) in which the 1967 referendum could possibly alter the status and the lives of Aboriginal people.

Primary source material

Primary Source Material

  • 4 sources- letter to the Prime Minister, newspaper articles, petition

  • Jigsaw activity

    When analysing your source,

    consider the following:

    1) What perspective/s are

    being represented or

    considered in your source?

    2) How does this source influence understanding of the significance of the 1967 referendum?

40 years on abc news report

40 years on- ABC news report

Secondary sources

Secondary Sources

  • Noticeable lack of indigenous voices in the secondary sources, failure of our universities?

  • Most historical research on the referendum is written by non-indigenous Australians, and this is contradictory to the need for us to include indigenous voices in the classroom.

Secondary sources1

Secondary Sources

  • Secondary sources chosen try to show the many different experiences of Indigenous Australians and the failure of the referendum to consider these differences.

  • Before the students start to read secondary sources. Brainstorm what they know about the referendum

Stuart macintyre

Stuart Macintyre

Bain attwood andrew markus

Bain Attwood & Andrew Markus

Richard broome

Richard Broome

Geoffrey blainey

Geoffrey Blainey

Historical interpretations

Historical Interpretations

  • Conservative

    Referendum as reassuring reminder of Australia’s equality, “one people, one nation”

  • Liberal

    Referendum has a redemptive role, when racist past was purged

  • Revisionist

    Referendum neither a watershed or turning point, still exists a failure to acknowledge special difference

  • Or, a bit of all three!!!!



  • Split Students into groups, each group reads a source and identifies which interpretation it fits into.

  • Students swap groups and discuss their perspective with others

  • Can be done as a Think, Pair, Share activity



  • Timeline of attitudes to Indigenous Australians

  • In groups

  • Use the information in the secondary sources to map a timeline of the experiences of Indigenous Australians and their rights.

  • Timeline to be mapped on the board.

  • Appeals to visual learners



  • 3 Level Questioning

  • Using any of the secondary sources, in this case Broome

  • Questions

  • What percentage of Australians voted yes in the referendum?

  • What was the attitude to indigenous Australians in Queensland in the 1960’s?

  • How does the experience of Indigenous Australians differ to what you would expect to be your rights as an Australian Citizen?

Essay outcome


'The 1967 referendum made little difference to the reality of life for Aboriginal people.'To what extent do you agree with this assessment of the 1967 referendum?



  • Henry Reynolds and Bruce Dennett, The Aborigines, Melbourne : Oxford University Press, 2002.

  • Bain Attwood and Andrew Markus , The 1967 referendum, or, When Aborigines didn't get the vote, Canberra : Aboriginal Studies Press, 1997.

  • Stuart Macintyre, A concise history of Australia, Melbourne, Cambridge University Press, 1999.

  • Richard Broome, Aboriginal Australians : black responses to white dominance, 1788-1994, Published St Leonards, N.S.W. : Allen & Unwin, 1994.

  • Anna Clark, History’s Children: The History Wars in the Classroom, UNSW Press, 2008

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