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21 Mar 2019

Teacher Feature – Peter Buckskin, South Australia


Nominations for the Narragunnawali Awards 2019 are still open, and after the inaugural Narragunnawali Awards 2017, the team are so excited to see the calibre of nominations being submitted from schools and early learning all around the country.

Zoe from the Narragunnawali team caught up with Professor Peter Buckskin, one of the esteemed judges for the Narragunnawali Awards 2017 and now, 2019. Peter is a Narungga man from the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia and currently the Dean of Aboriginal Engagement and Strategic Projects at the University of South Australia. For over 40 years Professor Buckskin's passion has been the pursuit of educational excellence for Aboriginal peoples.

Zoe: What got you into the education space?

Peter: I always liked going to school and benefited from teachers that showed an interest in my culture combined with high expectations of my capacity to achieve. Unfortunately my schooling experience was tainted by some teachers and leaders who marginalised my participation in the classroom and school yard. Despite the racism I experienced in and outside the classroom I appreciated the majority of my schooling enabled me to achieve success, so I wanted to share my positive experiences and challenges to influence education policy and program design.

However, there is still a great need for teachers and school leaders to develop their knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories so they can create the learning environment necessary for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners to achieve success and teach all students about Australia’s First Peoples, pre and post white settlement.

Zoe: What made you put your hand up to be a judge for the Narragunnawali Awards in 2017, and again for this year?

Peter: I have been committed to the Reconciliation Australia agenda since its inception and firmly believe we will find the solution to achieving true reconciliation through the education of the next generations of successful young people. In 2015, I was pleased to attend the launch of the Narragunnawali Program in Adelaide as I strongly endorsed its aims and objectives. I thought the meaning of Narragunnawali - of alive, wellbeing, coming together and peace captured the journey we all need to travel.

Zoe: What was one of the highlights for you in the Narragunnawali Awards 2017?

Peter: Visiting the schools and early childhood centres meeting the students, parents and staff. I was impressed with the whole of school or early learning centres approach, establishing strong relationships with their local Aboriginal Community and having the courageous conversations about race and identity.

Meet the rest of the Narragunnawali Awards judging panel: Bardi Kija woman Sharon Davis and Bangerang/Wiradjuri woman Geraldine Atkinson.