It seems that Australian history students, unbelievably, may actually be able to skip the study of Gallipoli, according to Justine Ferrari, The Australian’s education writer In a report on 27 June, 2007, Ms. Ferrari discusses the draft Australian history curriculum prepared as a result of last year’s history summit, and which was leaked to the newspaper. It is believed that when the Prime Minster saw the draft, he decided to appoint a review committee to work on a national Australian history curriculum for Years 9 and 10.
The Federal Government announced that it had made the following appointments to the committee: Professor Geoffrey Blainey, who was a member of the 1998 Constitutional Convention and who opposed the 1999 republican referendum; commentator Dr.Gerard Henderson from the Sydney Institute and who is a conservative republican; ANU history fellow Nicholas Brown and the NSW school history inspector Jennifer Lawless. Although Dr Henderson has a PhD in political history and his "extensive list of publications" included two well-reviewed history books, NSW Education Minister Mr John Della Bosca publicly attacked his appointment, saying that Dr. Henderson is not a “professional historian” He then announced that he had vetoed Ms. Lawless’ appointment.
Ms. Ferrari writes that the leaked draft curriculum is structured around 14 guiding questions based on 29 key dates and milestones covering 10 time periods, from the arrival of the first people in 40,000BC to 60,000BC to the late 20th century.
“Students would be required to study three of four pre-Federation questions, three of four post-Federation questions and two of six questions covering the entire period. Of the four post-Federation questions, only one deals with Australia going to war and the nation’s experience, leaving it open for teachers and students to choose the other three questions dealing with how Australia became a nation, who could be an Australian and the role governments play in improving the welfare of the people.”
There are “milestone events” listed in the draft. In the period entitled "Shaping Modern Australia" from 1967 to the present, the following are named. They are the constitutional referendum on Aborigines and the end of the White Australia policy; the protests against the Vietnam War in 1970-71; the dismissal of the Labor government in 1975; the 1992 Mabo judgment; and the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Historian Professor Gregory Melleuish, a constitutional monarchist, criticised the draft curriculum as providing “a patchy view of the nation’s history’, particularly after World War II. According to Ms Ferrari, he said that late 20th-century Australian history was presented as a series of social movements including republicanism, feminism and other rights, but was glaring in some of its omissions. "Why is the fall of the Whitlam government seen as one major event and the achievements of the Hawke-Keating governments not seen as counting for anything?"
Let us hope that history teaching returns to a sequential teaching of the story of our nation, which obviously must some understanding of the story of the United Kingdom. Let us hope too that students are not taught glimpses selected to reflect a “black armband “ view of our nation
And in our democracy, surely the first draft ought to be put out for public comment. ACM is writing to the Prime Minister and the Education Minister to request this.