Australia ignores Pacific history studies | Pacific Beat

Australia ignores Pacific history studies

Australia ignores Pacific history studies

Updated 15 February 2012, 13:30 AEDT

A leading regional historian has says Australia's national school curriculum needs to address Australia's relations with its neighbours.

Clive Moore, professor of Pacific and Australian history with the University of Queensland says Australians need more consciousness about their neighbourhood. He says Pacific island studies should be incorporated in teaching history, culture and geography in Australian schools from primary level. Professor Moore who is President of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies, spoke on this at the ''Oceanic Transformation conference in Melbourne last week. Professor Moore spoke to Firmin Nanol later and said that it's sad when Australians know very little about their Pacific islands neighbours - and even its closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea.

Presenter: Firmin Nanol

Speaker: Professor Clive Moore, President of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies

MOORE: It's not a deliberate thing, but it's a thoughtless thing that has occurred, when it would be so easy to include material coming out of Papua New Guinea, coming out of the Solomons, coming out of the various Polynesian or Micronesian nations and make Australian students familiar with their own regional neighbourhood.

NANOL: Professor Clive Moore, do you think Australians, generally students, know much about Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Pacific Island nations?

MOORE: Sadly I think they know very little and considering we share a close boundary at Torres Strait with Papua New Guinea, one of the worst lacking is in that it's a huge neighbour of ours and yet Australian kids at school don't learn anything about Papua New Guinea. The only way that they know about the Pacific I think is if they go to the Pacific as tourists or through the media if there is a natural disaster or some sort of catastrophe there and Australia helps out in the Pacific. But the Pacific is not part of Australia's consciousness, whether that's for all Australians or particularly we are talking here about school students, even though it is a neighbouring geographic area and that we are part of that Pacific area, they don't think about it at all and it's a matter of education. It's very difficult, it's easy over a generation of students to slowly incorporate Pacific thinking and understanding about Pacific cultures, but it is not being done.

NANOL: Do you think this omission affects one way or another the relationship between Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and other Pacific Island nations?

MOORE: I am certain that it does, because Australians understand that large amounts of aid money and we know it's over a billion dollars a year heads into the Pacific and they are often quite resentful I think about money that they see is being sent offshore that is not being used satisfactorily in the way that they consider aid should be being expended. So they need more education about their own neighbourhood and the way to do that is by making the media more conscious of the Pacific Islands, but also that the way to start is in primary school and secondary school.

NANOL: Professor Clive Moore, now the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies. If you were to recommend some sort of curriculum or things to be included, what would be your recommendation?

MOORE: In the national report that we have just published late in 2009, there is an entire chapter there about the school system, although most of the report relates to tertiary university education levels. What we have recommended, well there are a series of recommendations and there are ten major recommendations. Two of those are that there needs to be a centre for Pacific studies in Australia and there needs to be either a centre or you might call it an institute of Australia-Papua New Guinea relations in Australia. Then flowing out of that, the curriculum work that would join into the university curriculum, but also flow through into the school curriculum, so you get a continuous run from knowledge at a primary school levels through secondary and through the tertiary systems in Australia.

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