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NAIDOC Week 2020

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Did you know that Tasmania’s first Aboriginal teacher set up her own school in 1871?

Lucy Beeton was born on Gun Carriage Island in Bass Strait in 1829, and became a leader in business as well as in education. She started teaching on Gun Carriage Island after the government refused her request to appoint a teacher for the local children.

When she moved to Badger Island, she established a school in a tent, eventually convincing the government to appoint a teacher. Lucy was a strong and influential advocate for Aboriginal Tasmanians. She called out the dispossession and injustice perpetrated by European colonisation. She stood up for what she knew to be right, and blazed a trail for the government to follow in ensuring every young person received an education.

Fast forward to today, the Education Department in Tasmania recognises the educational aspirations of Aboriginal families and is committed to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait learners in our Child and Family Learning Centres, schools and libraries.

In honour of Lucy, we have Lucy Beeton Aboriginal Teacher Scholarships to support Aboriginal people to complete their teaching qualification at UTAS. (Applications for 2021 have closed, but keep an eye on our the scholarship’s website for news on the 2022 round.)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have always been strong teachers, and always will be! This NAIDOC Week, we celebrate and pay our respects to Lucy and all our Aboriginal educators, learners and their families – past, present and future – for the way they support and inspire learners to succeed as connected, resilient, creative and curious thinkers.  

You can find out more about Lucy Beeton’s life on the Indigenous Australia website.

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