Education: not cultural assimilation rebadged, Culturally united education with new symbols
Speaking in Adelaide today, Dr John Coulter, National President of Sustainable Population
Australia congratulated Kevin Rudd on the first big step toward reconciliation between
indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. ‘But’ he said, ‘it is only the first step along the
road to creating a single united nation which incorporates and respects the cultures of
‘You have identified education as a critical element but whose education and containing
what cultural assumptions? Education must not be merely another route to assimilation.
Non-indigenous Australians must acknowledge that Aboriginal culture contains elements
that a new reconciled and integrated culture must contain.
‘Over 60,000 years Aboriginal people came to respect the land, to treat it with reverence
and to identify with it. Today the mainstream culture sees a land to be exploited. Every
resource must be discovered, dug up and shipped out, faster and ever faster til nothing is
left for future generations but a vast empty hole in the ground. The mainstream must
learn a reverence for the land and where better than from our own indigenous brothers
Dr Coulter continued, ‘Not only would explicit acknowledgment of the superior ethical
attitude to land of indigenous people reinforce pride in their own culture, it is an ethical
attitude we all need to learn for our own survival.
There are very important Aboriginal cultural values that need to be adopted by the
mainstream and especially in our educational curricula for both black and white.’
He then suggested one symbolic change may help to move us toward a more reverent and
caring attitude toward our country, its unique environment, its plants and its animals.
‘Rather than continue with the irrelevant European star signs, we could all be born under
an Australian totemic plant and animal with different totems for each day in the year – 366
of them. Thus among our 20 million population there would be 55,000 people with special
knowledge of and a dedication to care for and respect each of these 366 plants and 366
‘This is not in any way to replace Aboriginal totemic associations or to be disrespectful.
Rather it is to illustrate that their tradition and cultural practice is so valuable that it has
been adopted in principle into the mainstream.
‘Every class of non-indigenous children would be associated with 20 -30 different animal
and plant totems and every class would learn about those living Australian symbols, their
environments and their associations with the country we all call home; and hopefully, to
develop a reverence for land that is woefully deficient in the mainstream culture’ Dr
Further information: Dr John Coulter, National President, Sustainable Population Australia
08 83882153 email@example.com