BY JASMINE ROLFE
Naidoc Week celebrations kicked off at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus on Wednesday July 5 and behind the traditional food stalls and workshops, were important messages to be heard from the members of the Indigenous community.
As she cooked her golden Johnny Cakes*, Yallburru ‘Young, Black and Deadly’ worker and board member of the Southeast region education department, Annie Woodcock, spoke about the Closing the Gap scheme in schools.
Annie believes that singling out the Indigenous children in the classroom may not be closing the gap at all.
“I worked in a high school for six years as an indigenous officer, as well as a part of the ‘closing the gap’ program. There’s nice concepts but I don’t think they’re closing it,” Annie said.
“I think it’s the way they target our kids. Our kids don’t want to be pulled out as if they’re different when they’re doing closing the gap classes.”
Bellvue Primary school teacher, Kristen Kiriona, agreed and said that Australian schools should celebrate native culture by holding more of these events, rather than singling out Indigenous children in the classroom.
“You know the thing that’s worked the best that I see at our school? When we do this, [Naidoc week celebrations] all of our non-indigenous kids want to be Indigenous. They say ‘I want to be Indigenous!” Kristen said.
“I believe that’s more effective at closing the gap than someone standing over them, telling them the answers. It makes the kids proud of who they are, they walk away with their chins up.”
“That’s closing the gap.”
*The Indigenous tradition of cooking bread in hot coals, with the larger loaf being referred to as damper and the smaller buns known today as Johnny Cakes.