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Aboriginal education in the Furneaux Islands (1798 - 1986) : a study of Aboriginal racial policy, curriculum and teacher/community relations, with specific reference to Cape Barren Island


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Morgan, AT 1986 , 'Aboriginal education in the Furneaux Islands (1798 - 1986) : a study of Aboriginal racial policy, curriculum and teacher/community relations, with specific reference to Cape Barren Island', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The Aboriginal people of Cape Barren Island and other Furneaux Islands have been selected for this historical analysis of Aboriginal education and racial policy, in order to ascertain the extent to which Tasmania has followed or diverged from the political and educational trends of other Australian States or Colonies, with respect to Aboriginal policy. It is found that Tasmania has influenced the development of Australian policies of Aboriginal repatriation, protection and segregation, and closely followed the national policies of assimilation and, to a lesser extent, integration. Yet the development of Tasmanian policy towards Aborigines and Aboriginal descendants, while clearly affected by national trends, has also been obfuscated by a prevailing belief, ideological in nature, that Tasmanian Aborigines have been extinct since 1876. The legacy of one century of supposed "extinction" is inherent in present State policy which, while at last recognising the right of individuals of Aboriginal descent to identify as Aboriginal, does not accord such persons the status and rights of indigenous Tasmanians called for by the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and its supporters, and has no expressed commitment to the current Federal policy of Aboriginal self-determination.
At the community level, the research finds that, for the most part, curriculum and pedagogy at the Cape Barren lsland shool have not differed substantially to that in other Tasmanian schools, although on occasions, teachers, the Tasmanian Government and the Education Department have devised specific changes in arrangements at the Island school, to implement a particular strategy in race-relations policy, or to accord with a particular educational model. With regard to teacher/community relations however, Cape Barren Island school teachers have traditionally been an authority figure, not only to the schoolchildren but to the adults of the community, for the male teachers have, historically been thrust into roles of missionary, Special Constable, Crown Lands Bailiff, magistrate, postmaster, medical officer, coroner and other duties. In addition to the responsibility and status invested in these offices, the pattern of dominant white/inferior black race-relations. on Cape Barren lsland has been reinforced by a situation where teachers have often been, the sole residents on the lsland in receipt of a comfortable year-round salary, whilst community members have suffered conditions of poverty and hardship throughout much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Yet the research also shows that the Furneaux Island Aborigines, or "half-castes" as they were referred to until recently, have been reluctant to accept any notions of their own social or cultural inferiority, and have, from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, engaged in numerous conflicts with the authorities over their rights, both free born as Tasmanian citizens and as descendants of the original Tasmanians.

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Morgan, AT
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