Welcome back for Term 3, and welcome back to the Insight blog. This week’s post celebrates the start of a new term with a speech delivered by Dr Chris Sarra, who was named the 2016 NAIDOC Person of the Year last Friday night.
You may have missed this story flipping through the papers on the weekend – not from any oversight of your own, but because it wasn’t discussed widely by many major news outlets.
Dr Sarra is the founder and Chairman of the Stronger Smarter Institute, an organisation dedicated to improving educational outcomes for Indigenous students in Australia. For those of you not familiar with his work and philosophy you can read his bio and explore the work of the Stronger Smarter Institute here.
This speech, ‘We Indigenous people are stronger than we believe, and smarter than we know’ is a must-read. It’s a call to action – to improve the standards of education provided for Indigenous Australians – a challenge to politicians to start formal treaty discussions and a powerful expression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander strength, culture and pride.
The speech would provide a good starting point for reintroducing Context discussions of ‘Exploring issues of identity and belonging’ or ‘Whose reality?’ It would also be a sensational model for how to write a speech. Not only is the content incredibly compelling, but the structure of the speech makes use of all the best techniques of speechmaking.
Click the icon below for a free downloadable PDF of analysis questions and writing tasks based on the speech. Please note that all links below and in the PDF will take you to third-party sites.
Best wishes and happy Term 3.
Suitability and relevance
- Form: speech transcript
- Central topics: improving Indigenous education outcomes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage and the importance of the government negotiating a treaty with Indigenous Australians.
- Content warnings: There is a reference to the speech honouring Indigenous ‘ghost children’ which may raise issues of youth suicide.
- Suitable for: Years 11–12.
- The Stronger Smarter Institute.
- ‘Aboriginal people are exceptional. When we can all acknowledge that, the gap will close‘ by Chris Sarra, Guardian Australia, Thursday 12 February 2015
The perfect accompanying piece to Dr Sarra’s speech, which explores his views of the ‘Closing the Gap’ policies and their implementation.
- ‘PM should negotiate Indigenous treaty, says Naidoc person of the year Chris Sarra’ by Calla Wahlquist, Guardian Australia, 10 July 2016.
This article also lists the other NAIDOC Award winners and further addresses recent political responses to the call for a treaty.
- Explore the history and importance of NAIDOC Week.
- Read some of Dr Sarra’s articles about Indigenous education and policy reform on The Conversation.
- ‘Closing the gap and learning the language’ by Michael Gordon in The Age, 13 February 2016, which discusses the symbolism and implications of Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to open his first major speech about Indigenous issues in the language of the Ngunawal people, on whose traditional land Canberra’s Parliament House is built.
- NITV’s Songlines is an eight-part series that is currently being broadcast on SBS about Indigenous Australian songlines. You can watch the series on replay as it airs here.