Remarks by Charge d'Affaires Stephen Scott
Celebration of NAIDOC Week 2009 and Presentation of Indigenised school materials
10 July 2009, Makati City
Undersecretary for Indigenous People, Office of the President, Josephine Dominguez; Undersecretary for Mindanao Affairs of the Department of Education, and Chair of the Technical Working Group on Muslim and IP Education, Manaros Boransing; Attorney Eugenio In-sig-ne, Chairperson National Commission on Indigenous Peoples; Most Reverend Sergio Utleg, Chairperson Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples – Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines; Secretary Yuchengco; Dananao Elementary School Principal, Arlene Dawing and Dananao Barangay Captain Gaspar Dawing; friends from the Ichananaw community in Kalinga Province; Mrs Oracion of Ateneo de Manila University, Maria Cameron and Edwin Wise of La Trobe University in Melbourne, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning and welcome.
Thank you for joining us today as we celebrate NAIDOC Week – a celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Australia’s indigenous people – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders are ethnically different from each other. Both have made significant contributions in many fields, including the arts, media, academia, sport, and business. NAIDOC Week is an occasion to recognise and showcase their contribution, promoting among all Australians a sense of national pride.
NAIDOC, which stands for ‘National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee’, was established in 1957 with responsibility for organising activities to honour Australia’s Indigenous heritage. Today, NAIDOC has become the name of the celebration itself and is held from the first to the second Sunday in July across Australia and at Australia’s diplomatic missions around the world.
This year's theme – Honouring Our Elders, Nurturing Our Youth – provides an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the crucial role Indigenous Elders play as leaders and role models in nurturing and inspiring the next generation of Indigenous Australians.
This year’s NAIDOC celebration will also include screenings of Indigenous Australian films at the University of the Philippines in Manila, University of Asia and the Pacific, and Miriam College throughout the month of July.
I would also like to take this opportunity to announce that the Australian Embassy will take part in the Philippines’ celebration of Indigenous People’s Month in October with an Aboriginal art exhibition entitled Balgo: Contemporary Australian Art from the Balgo Hills, Western Australia.
The exhibition will be hosted by the Yuchengco Museum. Secretary Yunchengco has been a very generous supporter of Australian art and culture over many years and the embassy has been fortunate to enjoy the hospitality of the Yunchengco Museum in exhibiting Australian art and culture on many occasions.
NAIDOC Week provides an opportunity to help build bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, encouraging us to celebrate the milestones achieved and the journey ahead
Last year, the Australian Government pledged to close the gap and address the disparity between the life opportunities of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The commitment to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians on life expectancy, child mortality, educational achievement and employment opportunities was reaffirmed in Prime Minister Rudd’s historic apology to the Stolen Generations in the Australian Parliament on 13 February last year.
For those of you who are not aware, the Stolen Generations refers to Aboriginal and Islander children who were forcibly removed from their families in the misguided belief that they could be better cared for.
The national apology marked the beginning of a new future between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and a long-term national commitment with an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination between Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments of Australia.
In the Philippines, Australia is a committed partner in helping promote the culture and heritage of Filipino Indigenous peoples.
A significant contribution managed through the Australian Government’s Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) program and in collaboration with organisations such as the Department of Education and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples was the establishment of the Institute for Indigenous Peoples Education (IIPE) and the Centre for Indigenous Peoples Education (CIPE).
As centres for the promotion of indigenous culture, these institutions have developed a curriculum for public and private schools that emphasises a culturally-sensitive indigenous education attuned to, and in harmony with, Mindanao’s indigenous peoples. This assistance has also included capacity building for Indigenous youth, leaders and educators in documenting their indigenous knowledge, community-based teaching and folk literature to enrich the Indigenous education curriculum. Early childhood education programs; distance learning courses; teacher training and functional literacy and livelihood classes for parents and out of school youth are also conducted by these Australian-supported institutions.
In a relatively short period of time the assistance has benefitted thousands of Indigenous children in isolated and disadvantaged regions of Mindanao where education facilities are not easily accessible.
The Australian Government has also supported cultural projects including helping to preserve handloom weaving, an endangered craft, by providing equipment and materials to Maranao women, and assisting traditional potters in Sagada, Mountain Province with a new kiln and pottery training centre to enable them to continue to preserve their cultural heritage.
We have supported livelihood projects such as providing post harvest facilities for the Maguindanaoan, T-boli, and Manobo coffee farmers of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato; and constructed classrooms for Aeta school children in Zambales.
Today, I have the honour to present culturally-specific educational materials developed especially for Dananao Elementary School in Kalinga Province.
These teaching and learning materials were produced under the Australian Government funded ‘Indigenising Education in a Kalinga Public School’ project headed by the Ateneo Centre for Educational Development and supported by Volunteers for International Development from Australia and the Philippines Australia Studies Centre of La Trobe University in Melbourne.
The materials include children’s storybooks based on oral stories told by Ichananaw elders from Kalinga and illustrated by the Ang I.N.K: Illustrators for Children. Materials also include a compilation of more than 60 songs and stories, a book about cultural beliefs, practices and customary law, and a 4-way dictionary of: Chinanaw - the tribe's indigenous language - Ilocano, Tagalog and English.
These educational materials are suited to the needs and culture of the Ichananaw tribe and aim to make more culturally relevant the quality of education provided by the Dananao Elementary School. In addition, the books will help to preserve the students’ cultural heritage.
We look forward to hearing more about the project this morning from Dananao Elementary School Principal, Arlene Dawing, who has travelled from Kalinga to be with us today, and project researcher and honorary research fellow at the Philippines Australia Studies Centre, La Trobe University, Maria Cameron
I would like to once again thank everyone for coming to celebrate this special occasion and would now like to invite Principal Dawing and Ms Cameron to say a few words.