Stan Grant, Australia Day and Indigenous identity

Stan Grant, Australia Day and Indigenous identity

An interesting thing happened just before Australia Day 2016: a speech delivered by Guardian Australia’s Indigenous Affairs Editor, Stan Grant, went viral after being posted by The Ethics Centre. Why is that particularly interesting? Beyond being an impassioned, articulate and powerful response to the topic ‘Racism is destroying the Australian dream’, the speech was delivered in Sydney on 27 October 2015 – three months prior to being picked up by the media.

When it was initially delivered, Grant’s speech largely flew under the media’s radar, but with the context of Australia Day and the debate it inevitably raises about this country’s colonisation, his views suddenly gained greater currency. Was it a slow news day? Was the speech suddenly more important? Why wasn’t this big news on 28 October 2015, the day after the speech was delivered?

You may have seen this coverage and watched Grant’s speech, but you may not have heard him explore the ideas he addressed at length.  Guardian Australia’s Token Podcast, which explores issues of race and cultural identity in Australia, featured Grant on 16 December 2015, expanding on the issues that he raised in his speech about six weeks earlier. He and Monica Tan (Guardian Australia’s Deputy Culture Editor) discuss the construction of Indigenous Australian representations in the media and how this affects attitudes of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, including the new migrant population. Grant eloquently explores how public discourse about Indigenous issues is shaped, and argues for the formal, constitutional recognition of Australia’s Indigenous peoples.

The podcast simply and clearly articulates the gap between how Indigenous Australians see themselves and how they are portrayed and perceived by other Australians. It will certainly prompt some interesting discussions about what it means to ‘belong’ in Australia and whether individuals can ever control their own identity. For those of you teaching texts with a strong Indigenous focus, this podcast will no doubt spark productive discussions.

The podcast’s language is accessible for Years 10, 11 and 12, and it is perfect for flipped classroom activities. It is also a great example of how to present a persuasive verbal argument that is strengthened by its balance of thoughtful evidence and passionate opinion. The issue should pose some interesting questions for students about the factors that make an event or issue newsworthy at any given time, and the power of social media in shaping public discourse, particularly with regard to Indigenous Australians. I’ve also collected together a few other resources, which are listed below, to help you discuss the podcast and Grant’s views, including some of the broader media commentary about his speech published on and around Australia Day.

Scroll down for a concise content breakdown that will help you to assess if it’s right for your school context or class, and for a free downloadable PDF of guiding questions and activities.

Best wishes and happy teaching!

Sandra Duncanson
Senior Editor

The resource

Token Podcast, ‘The Australian media is incredibly offensive to Indigenous people – Stan Grant’
with Stan Grant, Monica Tan, Michael Safi and Miles Martignoni broadcast by Guardian Australia, 16 December 2015.

Source: Guardian News & Media Ltd.
Form: podcast
Length: 33 minutes
Contributors: Monica Tan (Guardian Australia Deputy Culture Editor) and Stan Grant (Guardian Australia Indigenous Affairs Editor)

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Download includes content for:

  • Year 12 Context: Exploring issues of identity and belonging
  • Year 12 Text study: No Sugar, Mabo
  • Year 12: Analysing persuasive language in the media
  • Year 11: Examining argument and persuasive language in the media
  • Year 10: 
    • Understand how language can have inclusive and exclusive social effects, and can empower and disempower (ACELA1564)
    • Analyse and evaluate how people, cultures, places, events, objects and concepts are represented in texts, including media texts, through language, structural and/or visual choices (ACELY1749)
    • Identify and explore the purposes and effects of different text structures and language features of spoken texts, and use this knowledge to create purposeful texts that inform, persuade and engage (ACELY1750)
    • Identify and analyse implicit or explicit values, beliefs and assumptions in texts and how these are influenced by purposes and likely audiences (ACELY1752)

Suitability and relevance

Central ideas

  • Discusses the impact of historical, cultural and political perceptions of Aboriginality
  • Critiques the role of the Australian media in constructing perceptions of Indigenous Australians and their culture
  • Explores the importance of a group being able to control and tell their own story and the consequences of not being able to determine their own identity (cultural, political and personal)
  • Addresses whether Indigenous Australians feel that they ‘belong’ in Australia.

Cross references: The Australian Constitution, responses to the Adam Goodes ‘booing’ controversy

Visual components: none

Content warnings: makes reference to violence against Indigenous communities and traumatic historical events, such as the removal of Indigenous children from their families; some comments following the articles listed in the additional resources (below) may cause offence.

Additional elements: none

Additional resources

Last updated: 1 February 2016
© Insight Publications 2016

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