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Talya Collins, Corrine Conneely, and Jodie Costas TORRES STRAIT ISLANDS HISTORY AND CULTURE Aboriginal histories and cultures. Australian Curriculum.edu.au.

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Presentation on theme: "Talya Collins, Corrine Conneely, and Jodie Costas TORRES STRAIT ISLANDS HISTORY AND CULTURE Aboriginal histories and cultures. Australian Curriculum.edu.au."— Presentation transcript:

1 Talya Collins, Corrine Conneely, and Jodie Costas TORRES STRAIT ISLANDS HISTORY AND CULTURE Aboriginal histories and cultures. Australian Curriculum.edu.au

2 Identity The Torres Strait stretches for 150km between Cape York and the coast of Papua New Guinea, north of Queensland. The strait occupies over 100 Islands, reefs and sandbanks ( Stuart, 2011). Although the Torres Strait Islands lie between Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG), it is the country of PNG that Torres Strait Islander people identify with (Lui, 1996). Torres Strait Islanders are not mainland Aboriginal people and often are misidentified. They are separate in many factors such as origin history and way of life (Maximillan, 2001). 91% of Torres Strait Islanders traditional area is open ocean. The sea is known to be central to their sense of identity having determined their way of life, subsistence practices and ceremonial life (Lui,1996). The sea remains the source of inspiration for many of their songs, stories and is treated with a high amount of respect. Torres Strait Islands Flag The Torres Strait Islander Flag is an official flag of Australia, along with the Australian National Flag and the Australian Aboriginal Flag. The Torres Strait Islander Flag stands for the unity and identity of all Torres Strait Islanders. It is flown to celebrate and promote greater understanding of Indigenous peoples and their culture (Australian and Torres Strait Islander Commission, 2000). This flag was designed as a symbol to represent identity and unity of the Torres Strait islander people and each piece of the flag was designed to symbolize their culture. Green: Represents the land Blue: Represents the sea White: Represents peace Black: Represents the Indigenous peoples The Dhari or headdress represents Torres Strait Island people and the five pointed star represents each of the 5 major Island groups. The star was included to highlight the seafaring traditions of the Torres Strait (ATSIC, 2000). Torres Strait Islander flag” (ABC TV, 2012) “Map of Torres Strait Islands” (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009) “Shark Dance” (Native Title, 2012)

3 History In recent years the most significant event in the recognition of Indigenous rights in the Torres Straits and Australia, was the decision on the Mabo Land case which started in 1982 and ran for 10 years ( Lui, 1996). Koili Mabo is a very well known Torres Strait Islander who with the help of four other Islanders from Murray Island in the eastern Torres Strait, initiated the case in the high court of Australia to rectify that the people of the Murray Island are the traditional owners of the lands and have the distinct rights to their traditional land (Lui, 1996). In June 1992 the court ruled “the Meriam people of Torres Strait Islands are entitled as against the whole world to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the lands of the Murray Islands” (Eddie Mabo and Others VS State of Queensland, High Court of Australia, cited in Lui, 1996). The outcome from this issue allows the traditional owners of the land the rights to their land giving the Indigenous people some power. It allows the nation to address traditional land ownership. After world War Two, a mass amount of Torres Strait islanders migrated to the Australian mainland. Many of these people migrated voluntarily as they were seeking work or better life opportunities for their families. Others were forcibly removed from the Islands as threat which is evidence of the unfair circumstances experienced in the Torres Strait. Other Islanders migrated because of environmental circumstances, such as evacuation required during flooding (Watkin, 2009). Torres Strait (janesoceania.com) Sorry day. (liferemixed.com) Maboday Torres (Takver.com)

4 Culture Torres Strait Islanders do have similarities to mainland Aboriginals but they also have their own cultural aspects and stories dependent of their location and experiences. Leah Lui (1996) explained " what makes us Torres Strait Islanders is our languages, dances, our songs, our myths, legends and ceremonies. And although these have changed we have adapted as we came into contact with Pacific Islanders and missionaries". Torres strait Islanders are their own people and their cultural makeup differentiates them from mainland Aboriginals. Overall Torres Strait Islanders are mainly christen people, however over time their Christian beliefs have been woven into their cultural practices (Lui, 1996). Traditionally Islanders formed three major groups. These groupings were based on similarities and differences in way of obtaining food, ritual practices and the geophysical features of the islands. The basic division however, was between East and West on the basis of language (Lui,1996). Language There are two traditional languages spoken in the Torres Strait: Kalaw Lagaw Ya - This is similar to Aboriginal languages and is spoken on western, central and northern islands. Individual dialects are also found on each of the islands. Meriam Mir - This is the language of the eastern islands (including Mer) and is derived from Papuan languages. Individual dialects are also found on each of the islands. Spirituality, beliefs and traditions One of the main ceremonies which brings them together to celebrate their culture is the tombstone unveiling ceremony. When someone passes away in their culture it initiated the performance of certain rite. The tombstone ceremony involves the public unveiling of the tombstone which is then blessed by a priest ( Lui,1996). The unveiling is followed by feasting and traditional dancing to celebrate the occasion. It is symbolic of the final resting place for the spirit of the deceased and the end of mourning. The performance of the ceremony continues today on the islands and the mainland. Tombstone unveiling(inviewmedia.com.au) Land, sea, sky, in and out. ( aboriginal.art.com.au)Des.mob (tsi.org.au)

5 Educating & Teaching Governments across Australia recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Australians with one of the oldest continuing cultures in human history. They affirm the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to sustain their languages and cultures and acknowledge associations with the land and water. Governments have agreed to take urgent action to close the gap between the life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. To drive action, the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers have agreed through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to six ambitious targets: Australians and other Australians within a decade (by 2018). Achieving these targets will require significant effort and collaboration by governments, their agencies, communities and the non-government, corporate and philanthropic sectors. Targets have been built into funding agreements between the Australian Government and State and Territory Governments and non- government education providers as part of national arrangements. close the life expectancy gap within a generation halve the gap in mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under five within a decade ensure all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander four year olds in remote communities have access to early childhood - education within five years (by 2013) halve the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade (by 2018) at least halve the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Year 12 attainment or equivalent attainment rates by 2020; halve the gap in employment outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lyn,M.Education ( hreoc.gov.au) Barinya ( astartinlife.org.au) Header Teaching Education (volunteersaustralia.com.au)

6 Challenges and Issues

7 Classroom Strategies and Resources In 1985 Education Queensland took complete responsibility for the education of children of Torres Strait that were being school in the public system, with cultural awareness being included as an important part of training for teachers of Torres Strait Islander children (Shnukal, 2001). In the classroom this has gone further with the implementation of programs that incorporate cultural and linguistic awareness through spirituality and storytelling that involves the use of symbols, images and learning maps. An important point to remember is that teachers need to value and understand the features of Torres Strait Islander children’s first languages whilst building their Standard Australian English (SAE) skills. It is necessary for teachers to ensure that all students’ needs are catered for in the classroom; providing an inclusive learning journey that helps to maintain individual’s identity Additional learning and teaching strategies can include: Integration of Torres Strait Islander perspectives into the curriculum Apply units of study that include Torres Strait islander cultural and language programs. These can involve Torres Strait Islander members of the community/ role models. Modelling and scaffolding to ensure that students can deconstruct and then reconstruct concepts; students should watch first and then attempt. Linking language to children’s cultural experiences to provide a platform for constructing new learning Create a classroom environment that has a feeling of belonging for all children. This can be done through cultural displays/decorations. Incorporate learning through play and music; providing more kinaesthetic learning experiences (The State of Queensland Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian, 2012). Development of school-community based VET programs. Incorporate use of ESL/ESD teaching methodologies and practices (Dhinawun Consultancy, 2011). Front (aecsl.org.au) lip_image006 (gamarada.org.au)

8 Curriculum In educating Torres strait islanders and Aboriginal students the Australia Government has a resource called ' The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy (AEP)' which brings major and long term goals into education for Indigenous students. MAJOR GOAL 1 - Involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Educational Decision- Making To establish effective arrangements for the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents and community members in decisions regarding the planning, delivery and evaluation of pre-school, primary and secondary education services for their children. MAJOR GOAL 2 – Equality of Access to Education Services To ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have access to school services and education on a basis comparable to that available to other Australian children of the same age. MAJOR GOAL 3 – Equity of Educational Participation To achieve the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in pre-school education for a period similar to that for other Australian children. MAJOR GOAL 4 – Equitable and Appropriate Educational Outcomes To enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander attainment of skills to the same standard as other Australian students throughout the compulsory schooling years. (Australian Government, 2011). reconciliation_497x330 ( australiaday.org.au) 0.jpg ( wn.com)

9 Conclusion

10 References ABC TV. (2012). Torres Strait Islander flag [Image]. Retrieved from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission(2000) retrieved Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (2012). The Torres Strait Islands Flag. Retrieved from Charles Stuart University (2011). Social Justice and Human Rights Issues: A Global Perspective. Retrieved from Commonwealth of Australia. (2009). Map of Torres Strait Islands [Image]. Retrieved from Dhinawun Consultancy (2011). What works: 101 Effective Teaching Strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students. Retrieved from Lui, L (1996) Cultural Identity and Development in the Torres Strait Islands. Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts, New Delhi. Retrieved from

11 References Native Title. (2012). Shark dance [Image]. Retrieved from Maximilian, B. (2001). Multicultural Queensland 2001: 100 years, 100 communities, A century of contributions. Brisbane, Queensland: The State of Queensland (Department of Premier and Cabinet. Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs, and Education Services Australia. (2010). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan Retrieved from Queensland Government Department of Education, Training and Employment. (2008). Bound for success: Education strategy for Torres Strait. Retrieved from strait.htmlhttp://education.qld.gov.au/schools/indigenous/strategies/bfs-torres- strait.html Shnukal, A. (2001). Torres Strait Islanders. In B. Maximilian (Ed.), Multicultural Queensland 2001: 100 years, 100 communities, a century of contributions 2001 (pp ). State of Queensland (Department of the Premier and Cabinet). The State of Queensland Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian Forum – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids in care: Improving educational outcomes. Retrieved from Watkin, Felecia (2009) My island home: a study of identity across different generations of Torres Strait Islanders living outside the Torres Strait. PhD thesis, James Cook University. Retrieved from


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