Interview transcript: The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth on ABC Mornings with Virginia Trioli

Transcript: The Healing Foundation CEO, Fiona Cornforth, with Virginia Trioli, ABC Radio Melbourne ‘Mornings’

Monday 25 January 2021


Topics: Stolen Generations history in school curricula; Australia Day



VIRGINIA TRIOLI: But on this day, when we’ve got a nationwide conversation and, in some respects, a rather angry or even hurt conversation about Australia Day – whether it should change or not, whether there’s enough impetus for it to change, and why it matters to some to change or not change. Really interesting to hear as schools go back that the Healing Foundation would like to see the Stolen Generations history taught as part of Australian school curriculum. Fiona Cornforth is the CEO of the Healing Foundation. Good morning. Good to talk to you.


FIONA CORNFORTH:         Good morning.


VIRGINIA TRIOLI:           Is the Indigenous history and all its parts – bad and terrible and good as well – is it not taught in schools?


FIONA CORNFORTH:         I think it is to some degree. I think what we’ve done though is ensure there are lesson plans that facilitate learning direct from the mouth of Stolen Generation survivors.


And school communities, often there’s an institution nearby and people don’t know the history of that, of the removals and their impact, removing children from their families.


And so, it’s a very important part of Australia’s history that needs- that our young people need to understand. It has impacts on our rates across health and social outcomes today.


VIRGINIA TRIOLI:           Would you like to see it as compulsory? A compulsory part of the curriculum?


FIONA CORNFORTH:         Yeah, definitely. I think where, you know, children aren’t exposed to these stories and the information, then they’re not likely to have a well-rounded education that serves them in their work, as they take on roles in justice, in education and health systems in the future.


VIRGINIA TRIOLI:           So, it may be taught in some way or another, but the lesson plans that you have, that you offer to schools, what do they include?


FIONA CORNFORTH:         So, like I said before, just stories from Stolen Generations survivors. We encourage school communities to engage with survivors in their local area. And what they speak to is, not just what happened when they were removed and the follow-on effects of that, but also how they and their families have been overcoming what happened.


And it’s a … every human being experiences trauma – our origins of trauma are from colonisation, and there has been intergenerational trauma.


So, there’s a story there for children to understand, our young people. But there’s a story about

resilience and strength and survival. And the fact that, you know, we’re the longest living and thriving culture in the world, and the reasons why come out in these stories.


VIRGINIA TRIOLI:           And I wonder, if that was taught more broadly in schools, if that actually connects to or might have an impact on the ongoing conversation about Australia Day?


FIONA CORNFORTH:         I think so. I think, like I said, that well-rounded education does involve hearing from as many viewpoints as possible. We’re all on Aboriginal country here, and so we’re learning there’s so much to be taught about from our First Nations.


VIRGINIA TRIOLI:           Fiona, good to talk to you about this. Thanks for your time. Fiona Cornforth is the CEO of the Healing Foundation.


To raise awareness about Stolen Generations ahead of Australia Day, The Healing Foundation is sharing this animation about the impacts of intergenerational trauma:

The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to heal trauma caused by the widespread and deliberate disruption of populations, cultures, and languages over 230 years. This includes specific actions like the forced removal of children from their families.

Media contact: Ben O’Halloran – 0474 499 911 or

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