Teachers urged to help tackle racism

We want to awaken people from within the classroom.

A new education toolkit for high schools, based on the groundbreaking coming of age story of a young Aboriginal man, is a practical guide for teachers about a better way forward.

Aboriginal activist and film director Alec Doomadgee has called for Australian high schools to ensure every student has a comprehensive understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.

Documentary for all

Alec Doomadgee is the father of Zach Doomadgee, the central subject of the highly successful 2016 documentary Zach’s Ceremony. A feature-length documentary, it traces Zach’s growth from boy to man over a period of 10 years.

It is a complex and nuanced story with universal themes of family, connection, culture and belonging. It also explores what it means to be connected to the oldest living culture on earth in the 21st century.

Filming began when Zach was 10, living in Sydney with his father and four siblings. Zach shares his thoughts about growing up and the importance of his Aboriginal heritage – Alec and Zach belong to the Waanyi, Garawa and Ganggalida peoples.

As the film progresses, we see Zach living in two worlds: in Australia’s biggest city, and his frequent visits back home to Doomadgee, an Aboriginal community in far north-west Queensland, about 250 kilometres from Carpentaria, where he lives the traditional life.

Toolkit for teachers

In launching an education toolkit for Years 8 to 10, which grew out of the success of the documentary, Alec Doomadgee said the time was right for young people to become stewards of change.

Zach Doomadgee agrees that it is more important than ever to educate Australians about the racism Indigenous people have to deal with every day.

“We want to awaken people from within the classroom,” Zach said. “The Black Lives Matter movement has been happening here for 240 years, it’s just that white people haven’t seen us.

“Educating people about our history and what many of us go through every day is the first step toward improving the lives of Indigenous Australians.”

Alec Doomadgee worked with the Foundation for Young Australians to create the classroom resources.

“This toolkit teaches practical ways to go about finding solutions,” Alec said. “If you believe in truth and finding a better way forward, this is a perfect start to that journey of healing.”

Zach Doomadgee said it was confronting to watch his personal struggles played out on the big screen, but it was a message all Australians needed to hear. “The documentary shows just a small part of what it is like to grow up in Australia as an Indigenous person,” he said.

“It’s meant to inspire and empower young people and the education toolkit will teach them that culture is a source of strength, it supports our individual and collective health and wellbeing.”

Watch Zach’s Ceremony and download the free education toolkit: zachsceremony.com

Monica Crouch