In the first term, the focus was on pre-settlement, with a particular emphasis on the life of the local Wurundjeri people. This included land management, language, social organisations and spirituality.
The following terms looked at the impact of colonisation and what was destroyed. Topics that followed on from this were Aboriginal heroes and white champions, Aboriginal activist movements, native title and land rights. Threaded through the history were presentations on Aboriginal invention, architecture, engineering and astronomy.
The course has been successful for a number of reasons. The facilitators – Jan Aitken, Rob Gardner and Gloria Wallace – have brought a wealth of understanding, personal experience and relationships to each topic. There have been a variety of guest speakers, including Aboriginal experts and leaders, as well as historians and published authors. Participants have enjoyed excursions in the local area, including Coranderrk, and viewed a variety of DVDs and internet sites. The participants themselves have also added richness to the course, sharing their own knowledge and researching to offer information on a variety of topics.
This coming term will look at significant Aboriginal sites throughout the country and there is a proposed trip to Budg Bim in south west Victoria. This is the country of the Gundijmara people – engineers of aquaculture, builders of stone houses and warriors defending country. In 2004, Budg Bim became the first indigenous landscape to gain Australian National Heritage listing and, in July 2019, it was inscribed on The UNESCO World Heritage List.