Unit Outline

Koorie Studies in SOSE Years: 7-10

A Publication of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria

Unit 1: Koorie People of South-East Australia

The present-day Koorie community in Victoria is closely linked by strong family and kinship ties, shared experiences and ongoing cultural and social attachments to specific places.

This unit facilitates for students a greater knowledge of the vitality and vibrancy of Koorie culture. They are encouraged to grow in their appreciation of how Koorie people are maintaining and revitalising their unique cultural heritage and identity. Another focus of this unit is the justice and welfare issues that confront all Indigenous people today.

Students will be invited and challenged to consider personal expressions of support and action for achieving justice, as well as the part they might play in Reconciliation with and for Indigenous Australians.

Unit 2: On Sacred Ground

Australia's Indigenous people have a deep sense of belonging to the land and the life forms that are part of it.

In this unit students explore Indigenous people's beliefs about the beginning and continuity of life, referred to in this unit as Australia's Indigenous Heritage. Students are assisted to deepen and extend their knowledge of the spiritual beliefs, spiritualities and sacred sites of Indigenous Australians. Alongside these studies, they are assisted to extend their knowledge of creation stories and of sacred places in various cultures and religious traditions.

Unit 3: Koorie Life in the Pre-Contact Era

The Koorie people of south-eastern Australia lived in societies in which land was shared among clans and clan associations, commonly called 'tribes' by Europeans. These clan associations had relationships and alliances with adjacent groups. The unit of work focuses on clan territories and assists students in understanding the organisation of territories, taking account of social, economic, climatic and topographic factors. It also combines the disciplines of history and geography to demonstrate the role that environment played in the way that people lived in the pre-contact era.

Unit 4: Mulla Meea - Baa Gnuenjall. A long time ago - and today

This unit will lead students to explore the relationship between land and Indigenous people before this relationship was devastated by the arrival of Europeans. It will also focus on the current initiatives and contributions that are being made to the Warrnambool and district communities by members of local Indigenous communities. This unit serves as a model for other local area studies.

Unit 5: The Land We Share: Human Stories in the Environment

Before the colonisation of Victoria, Indigenous people living in many diverse environments developed effective and economical technologies for sustaining their needs and their environment. In this unit, students learn about these approaches to land management and sustainability, particularly in the south-east of the continent.

Examples of human land use by Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, past and present are examined. 'The Land We Share' is essentially about what we can learn from Indigenous people about caring for our environment and living in harmony with the land.

Unit 6: Frontier Wars

The central theme of the unit is that White Australia has a black history, and the recognition of that history is central to a discussion of what it is to be 'Australian'. 'Frontier Wars' invites students to examine the nature and extent of resistance made by Indigenous people in response to European invasion and British colonisation of the east coast of the continent.

Unit 7: Aboriginal Mission Stations and Reserves in Victoria

Did missions protect or destroy Indigenous people's cultures and lifestyles, or did they do both of these things?

Although life on missions was severe and very restricted, for many Koorie people, 'the mission' is remembered nostalgically. For some it was a relatively safe haven. For others, the well-meaning proselytism of the Christian missionaries meant an irretrievable loss of language and of the culture, which it expressed.

Learning in this unit has as its focus the colonial attitudes and legislation that contributed to the establishment of missions and reserves in the 1800s. It also focuses on how mission life changed the lifestyles and cultures of Indigenous people. This unit will lead students to explore and understand these experiences.

Unit 8: Land, Law and Indigenous Australians

Legislative and judicial decisions of recent decades represent 'watershed events' or 'defining moments' in the history of the land rights movement in Australia. The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976 (NT), the High Court's Mabo decision (June 1992), the Native Title Act 1993 (Cwlth) and the High Court's Wik decision (December 1996) are accorded particular attention in this unit.

Students are encouraged to explore and analyse the moral and ethical issues of land rights, as well as economic and political positions debated in and by political, corporate and community groups.

Before students undertake this unit, it is recommended that they work through the learning activities presented in Unit 2 of this resource, entitled 'On Sacred Ground', which has as its focus Indigenous people's spiritual relationship with the land. Such a focus will assist students to understand that the issue of land rights is not simply economic or political.