IN CONVERSATION WITH STORYTELLER SIAN
“I’ve been in the education sector for the past ten years, working as a teacher’s aid for students with special needs.
I’m now working in a school of 18 Indigenous students who have difficulties managing mainstream schooling because of their domestic situation. A lot of the Indigenous population suffer from inter-generational trauma stemming back 200 years– something I didn’t really understand until I started working with these kids. Through the work that I do, we’re trying to break the cycle of trauma, domestic violence, and drug abuse that so many children are trapped in.
Many Australians don’t truly comprehend the history of this country or the pain that lies behind the challenges faced by Indigenous Australia. I’ve always wondered how different the lives of Indigenous Australians would be if white Australia understood more about their culture.
We need to start nurturing Indigenous culture and we should look to New Zealand as a role model. We need to focus on educating our children, telling them the truth and promoting understanding, not blame. This would be one step toward harmony.
Personally, I’m trying to do this through sharing the stories of Indigenous people in Redfern. I’ve been interviewing students, prisoners, police officers and elders on their culture, history and their own personal story. These interviews are in a book that I hope to distribute to schools across New South Wales. I want school kids to see a face rather than a stereotype when it comes to Indigenous Australia.
It’s important to empower kids to make up their own minds. I think, in general, we need to give kids the courage to speak up– they are incredibly involved and passionate and we should be nurturing this. We shouldn’t just be teaching them their times tables, we should be giving them a voice.
To build back better, Australia needs to embrace the oldest culture in the world. Only good things can come from using Indigenous knowledge which has been alive for thousands of years. There is a lot of knowledge out there. We can’t allow Indigenous kids today to grow up with the same blockages and issues that their parents and grandparents did.”
*Interview and write-up- s p a c e storyteller, Sian Gooden