Stereotypes arise from Education

from Reference 27

At the primary school in D, a parent objected to her son sitting next to an Aboriginal child. Her protest was ignored by the headmaster, who considered that he would not be justified in abetting segregation, though he privately subscribed to the stereotype on which the protest was based. At X some mixed-blood children attend the Central School after completing the primary course at the Station School.

One of these children, a quarter-caste girl of about fourteen years of age was the victim of quite savage rejection, the white children addressing her as 'big black gin'. In this case hostility may have been related to the fact that the girl in question was leading a very active sex life, so that rejection based on dirtiness and disease was reinforced by that which classed all Aborigines as highly promiscuous. Younger Aboriginal children at the same school during the same period were fairly well accepted; this was particularly so of two sisters of very light skin colour. Children at the convent school in D seem to be subject to persecution from fellow pupils, and also a certain amount of mistrust on the part of the teaching staff. One of the most unequivocal denunciations of the mixed-blood as 'lacking in all moral sense' came from the D parish priest. The opposite is true at N, where Aboriginal children seem to be welcomed in the convent school and to have a considerable degree of academic success.

This even holds true for schoolchildren. With one exception the girls have no activity comparable with the school football team of the boys. The 1954 football team from U Aboriginal school contained four white boys, the sons of local farmers and town businessmen, and though greeted with mixed feelings by the inhabitants of U, the team was received with enthusiasm by spectators at an inter-school football carnival in the large town of D, some thirty miles away.

During 1954 an avenue of social contact with the white community was opened to the schoolgirls of the U Aboriginal station with the formation of a Brownie troop. This was formed by the matron of the station on condition that membership should be open to Aboriginal children from the station as well as to the children of white townspeople and farmers. Some of the Aboriginal mothers attended the inaugural meeting, and the troop meets regularly under the leadership of the assistant teacher from the U white school. On D.U station, an all mixed-blood Girl Guide troop operated for about two years, but was disbanded when its most enthusiastic members grew up and left the station to take jobs in the towns. Probably the Brownie troop at U has a better chance of survival, as its members are very much younger and its continuance does not depend only on recruitment of a sufficient number of station children.

In these childhood contacts between the two groups acceptance of, and action in terms of the stereotypes is not noticeable. White children do not exhibit the shrinking from close physical contact with Aborigines that characterizes adult behaviour. When competitive games required the choosing of two teams in the Brownie troop there was no noticeable tendency for choice to be in terms of colour. Cliques within the troop were determined by differences of age rather than of colour ; older white children sought the company of mixed-blood girls of a similar age rather than of younger white girls. The ceremony of the organization requires the members to kneel round a circle painted on the floor, in the middle of which stands a large papier-mache toadstool. In this there was no tendency for the little girls to form two groups according to colour. Arrangement round the circle was haphazard except that younger children of both groups tried to keep near their older siblings.

When the school football team travelled to D to compete in the inter-school carnival, the four white boys in the team showed no reluctance to drink from the same bottle of soft drink as the mixed-blood children, and some lending of football jerseys, socks and boots took place, the white boys exhibiting no unwillingness to wear clothes that had already been worn by Aborigines.