Australian University teaching of colonial history causes anger

The university defended the guidelines, insisting it was not mandatory for students to use the language. Photo / Getty Images
The university defended the guidelines, insisting it was not mandatory for students to use the language. Photo / Getty Images

A top Australian university has rejected claims it is trying to rewrite the nation's colonial history after it encouraged students to use the terms "invaded" and "occupied" for the arrival of British settlers.

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Indigenous Terminology guide, which states that Australia was "invaded, occupied and colonised", has drawn an angry reaction in some quarters.

Referring to Captain James Cook's arrival in Botany Bay in 1770, a headline in Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper in Sydney said: "UNSW rewrites the history books to state Cook 'invaded' Australia."

Radio host Alan Jones said: "Don't try and restrict the thinking of university students by some so-called diversity toolkit on indigenous terminology rubbish which dictates game, set and match that Cook's arrival in New South Wales must be referred to as an invasion.

One student might well argue in favour of invasion and another in favour of settlement. The argument should be judged on its quality. But prejudice and political correctness are anathema to genuine scholarship and learning."

The university defended the guidelines, insisting it was not mandatory for students to use the language.

"It uses a more appropriate, less appropriate format," a UNSW spokesperson told the BBC.
"The guide suggests referring to Captain Cook as the first Englishman to map the continent's East Coast is 'more appropriate' than referring to his 'discovery' of Australia."

The guide also suggests using the terms "Indigenous Australian people" or "Aboriginal peoples" instead of "Aborigines" or "the Aboriginal people", to avoid suggesting all Indigenous Australians are the same.

It says using the term "complex and diverse societies" is more appropriate than using words such as "primitive", "simple", "native" and "prehistoric".

The guidelines also sparked a heated debate in social media.

One Twitter user, Bernard Gaynor, said: "More PC rubbish. Now the University of NSW is telling us that Captain Cook invaded Australia." Another, Osman Faruqi, tweeted: "About time.

How can it be controversial to no longer refer to Cook as the guy who 'discovered' Australia."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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