Monday, November 9, 2009

Professor Mick Dodson AM presenting the 209 Sir John Quick Lecture.

A crowd turned out in the early evening of Melbourne Cup Day to hear Mick Dodson's presentation. I didn't really know what he would be talking about, but based on the little that I know of him, I was expecting a passionate lecture about indigenous rights. And we weren't disappointed. As the crowd trickled in, I thought about the demographics of the people here and I wondered why there weren't more young people here.   

Professor Dodson talked about Sir John Quick, who migrated to Australia and worked in a few different jobs, including journalism, law and was knighted for his work in establishing the foundations for the Australian Federation. This was a man who achieved great things, and this is the power of having a dream, persistence and education.

Professor Dodson talked about human rights. He reminded us  'that we can't think that any problem is too hard or that it will go away. It won't. We all agree that every child deserves a good education, yet we don't deliver it. We have failed these children. There has been recent works with rebuilding schools and new classrooms, but are there good teachers for all of the schools, even the remote and far away ones. The education revolution begins and ends with people. We need to see the worth and potential in every person.'

Professor Dodson spoke about a school in the ACT that took Grade 5 kids away on a camp and when they came back to the school, they discovered that the Grade 4 kids had moved into their classroom. The Grade 5 kids told them to leave, but they refused. The Grade 4 kids were supported by their teacher and they liked the new classroom so they decided to stay. The Grade 4 kids kept all of belongings and work of the Grade 5 kids and refused to give it back. The Grade 5 kids were sad and confused and felt like they had been tricked, but the grade 4 kids didn't care. Sound familiar? This kind of critical, experiential learning delivers a powerful message to students and parents about Australia's history.

Professor Dodson issued some challenges to the Government - "if we are aiming for social inclusion  this  is about an inclusive society that we all feel proud of and we all feel part of.  How can we achieve this when the Government suspends the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory to specifically target policy at Indigenous people? There are many gaps to close and expectations to do well. We need to teach people about their rights and the rights of other people. We can only be fully inclusive when the wisdom and the vote of disadvantaged people can be heard".

It was an inspiring, provocative and challenging lecture and I left feeling that there is more that I can do personally, for both indigenous people and also other people who are experiencing disadvantage. 

What about you - Have you ever been to a passionate lecture like this - where you got inspired to take action or do something  differently?  What did you do and how did it turn out?

No comments: