Governments in different parts of the world have recently shown the need to support their indigenous peoples. In February, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the Aboriginal community: “We have come a long way over the last 50 years … but we have not come far enough”. The 50 years represents the time since a 1967 referendum in which Australians agreed they had a duty to help the First Australian people.
The 9th Closing the Gap report showed examples of success around the country. One of these is the Empowered Communities initiative. This aims to bring government and communities together ‘to set priorities, improve services and apply funding effectively at a regional level.’
However, despite the successes, the report made it clear that targets were not being met for decreasing child mortality and closing achievement gaps in school and employment. It set health/ well-being, education and employment as priorities for the future.
Last month, Trudeau’s government in Canada announced its budget plans for 2017. These included hundreds of millions of dollars investments going to indigenous peoples and communities over the next year.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in his budget speech, “Together, we will build stronger, more resilient communities and renew our nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Metis. We will help break down employment barriers, with a focus on skills development, training and better education.”
Regarding education in particular, the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs write, ‘The education gap between indigenous peoples and mainstream populations remains critical’.
Warnborough people have been closely linked to working with indigenous peoples. Warnborough Council Secretary Dr Ray Morland has been working with indigenous communities in Australia and New Zealand for a long time and is especially well-respected by the Noongar community. Similarly, Dr Betsy Buchanan has spent her lifetime fighting for the aboriginal community and was recently honoured by being inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame.
In the early 2000s, Warnborough worked with key members of the Lac-Courte Oreilles Ojibwa community in Wisconsin, USA on academic programmes and research to preserve Native American cultural artefacts including the language, hunting and weaving techniques, and other crafts.
For further reading on Education and indigenous peoples:
- UNESCO Report: Challenges of Indigenous education
For news relating to Australia, indigenous peoples and education:
Listen / Read our interview with Dr Betsy Buchanan on her work with the indigenous peoples of Western Australia.