Club Palm: What does history suggest?

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A short Yr 10 history unit that uses a range of media to analyse different points of view of a controversial issue: in this case, the future (or not) of tourism on Palm Island in North Queensland.

I haven't included my ideas for implementing it, but I would love feedback from experienced teachers, especially if you decide to use (some) of this.

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Club Palm: What does history suggest?

  1. 1. EDSS576 Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Assessment Leigh Turner Assignment 1 “Club Palm”: What does history suggest? Australian Curriculum: Year 10: Depth Study 2: Rights and Freedoms (1945-present) PART A: a) The Queensland Premier and Tourism Minister recently released correspondence assessing tourism opportunities on Palm Island. Locally this prompted the front page newspaper headline “Club Palm: Newman’s plan to turn infamous island into tourist mecca” (Michael & Sandy, 2013, p. 1), along with other local and state media interest. Palm Island lies just off the coast of Townsville in North Queensland, and has had a long and tormented history since ‘disruptive’ Aborigines were forcibly moved there in 1918. This troubled past has led to a modern community with many significant social and economic issues. Despite these problems, many in the community seek a positive future for Palm Island and its residents. Tourism has long been touted as a possible avenue of economic prosperity for the island, and there are many different perspectives on how, and even if, this idea should now be encouraged. Given the history of the island and its current circumstances, the issue for study is whether or not tourism should be encouraged and developed on Palm Island. If so, how and by whom? If not, why not? b) Despite its proximity to the mainland and the availability of regular ferries and flights, non-indigenous Townsville residents do not visit Palm Island (excluding for employment purposes). “Out of sight, out of mind” is an apt adage in this context, however this issue has been selected for study because mention of Palm Island in Townsville also invariably invokes a range of impassioned opinions across a wide range of perspectives. Many of these opinions are not evidence-based, and rarely reflect an empathic understanding of the experiences of Palm Island residents throughout the last century. This issue was chosen because it enables students to connect the history of indigenous Australia with contemporary issues: to identify the impact of past policies and practices on the lives of living and future generations; to understand the
  2. 2. existence of historically based justifications for different perspectives; to empathise with various points of view and develop an informed personal position, based on analysis of relevant media sources, on a current issue of significant and ongoing importance in their local community. The knowledge and understanding gained here will ignite further questions and engagement, propelling students into deeper investigation of the Rights and Freedoms depth study.
  3. 3. 3 PART B: “In Palm Island you can almost feel the layers of history lying just under the surface. It feels like all it would take is the smallest scratch for all the hurt and anger to be revealed.” (Krawitz, 2011). As with many issues relating to Palm Island, the range of perspectives on the potential for tourism on the island is diverse. Many of these views need to be examined sensitively, given the strong emotions resulting from direct personal experiences of the island’s history. Various perspectives are identified and described in the table below, with reference to relevant media resources that elaborate on these perspectives and their suitability for inclusion. Two or three varied and strong key resources are provided for each of the five perspectives presented. Up to three optional resources are also provided for students wanting to extend their analytical skills, seeking greater understanding or who become interested in some or all of the issues raised by the different perspectives. Perspective Resource Description & Suitability 1. Tourism should proceed based on existing tropical island tourism models, with help and direction from the Queensland Government • Palm Island Eco Tourism DVD http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6QiXrGs gtw&feature=share&list=PLAZOJZnmFZtDb GzS8PTeJEW7-u2Y_7C6l • Townsville Bulletin 9/7/13 front page [in pdf form attached] purchased from http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/article/2 013/07/09/385132_news.html OPTIONAL: • Tropical Paradise: Ben Southall meets Palm Island http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QljeGFEE- A short promotional video created as part of the Great Tropical Drive series of tourism videos, presenting an idealised image of a tropical island where there are lots of enjoyable activities such as bushwalking, swimming and boating. Students will come to realise that it represents Perspective 1 to an extreme but unrealistic degree. This front page article reports on the Queensland Premier’s ambitions to develop Palm Island as a tourist destination. Although it briefly considers different perspectives, it essentially concurs with the Premier’s plans. The headline provides the impetus for this study, and students will analyse the content of the article with emphasis on the language used: do the terms ‘infamous island’ ‘tourist mecca’ intentionally inflame the issue? A video report portraying the island as a fun and enjoyable tourist destination, with friendly people and many tourist activities. This is useful because it presents a tourist’s actual experience of the
  4. 4. 4 Perspective Resource Description & Suitability - U&feature=share&list=PLAZOJZnmFZtDbGz S8PTeJEW7-u2Y_7C6l • Letter from Campbell Newman pp. 1-2 and Letter from Jann Tuckey pp. 1-2 http://resources.news.com.au/files/2013/07/0 9/1226676/297895-cm-file-rti-newman-palm- island-tourism.pdf island, and presents a little more information about the island and its residents. Students can decide whether it would reflect a non- celebrity’s tourist experience. Letters released to the media, between the Premier and the Minister for Tourism, about planning to develop the concept of tourism on Palm Island (and in other indigenous communities). Students can assess how fairly the Townsville Bulletin reported Newman’s plans, and also examine the detail and wording used. 2. Tourism should proceed, in a way that restores and preserves the identity and culture of Palm Island • Audio file: Palm Island Mayor Alf Lacey talks tourism http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2013/07/0 9/3799513.htm • Queensland Heritage Council media release: State heritage listing for Fantome Island 12 June 2012 http://www.qldheritage.org.au/heritage-listing- fantome-island.html OPTIONAL: • Audio file: The Big Fish fishing with Indigenous leader Warren Mundine at Palm ABC local radio interview with the mayor of Palm Island, providing some historical context for tourism on the island, particularly in terms of discussing ‘what product we put in the community’ – eco- tourism and the unique ‘Aboriginal experience’ are suggested. Students will learn some of the key considerations for residents including funding, infrastructure, environmental and social considerations. A media release from the Queensland Heritage Council announcing Fantome Island’s listing on the Queensland Heritage Register, and outlining some of the island’s history as a lock hospital for indigenous people with leprosy. Fantome Island is now an uninhabited area of the Palm Island Group, and just a short (stunning) boat trip from Palm Island. It has unique historical ruins, and it was the first site requested by an Aboriginal community for listing under the Queensland Heritage Act. Students will begin to understand that Palm Island has a unique, strong and largely untold history that would be of interest to many visitors. This resource provides students with an example of an authentic tourist attraction. A nine minute interview [48:00-39:18] with a respected indigenous man about his enjoyable fishing holiday to Palm and Fantome
  5. 5. 5 Perspective Resource Description & Suitability Island http://blogs.abc.net.au/nsw/2012/06/the-big- fish-fishing-with-indigenous-leader-warren- mundine-at-palm-island- .html?site=centralwest&program=central_we st_the_big_fish Islands. Students will understand that tourists are interested in a range of holiday experiences, not only luxury tropical island escapes. 3. Tourism should be opened up in any way that helps younger residents secure employment and prosperity. • Cathy Freeman Foundation video http://www.cathyfreemanfoundation.org.au/in dex.php/news/52-watch-bright-futures-on- the-horizon-2 • Video: Giving back to Palm Island http://www.abc.net.au/local/videos/2013/07/1 1/3801036.htm • Courier Mail article [presented as a printed pdf] http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensl and/campbell-newman8217s-moves-to-lure- tourists-to-palm-island-receives-a-mixed- reaction-from-residents/story-fnihsrf2- 1226676160370?sv=bab007d860e07afa39e 2e9c731d6c1ea OPTIONAL: • Audio file Palm Island locals Lynndel, Harry, Raymond and Nina talk tourism http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2013/07/0 A six minute video profiling the work of a respected indigenous woman with family connections to Palm Island, outlining some of the achievements, challenges and hopes for children living on the island. Students will learn that residents have a genuine interest in their future, and are in need of future employment opportunities. A short ABC local radio story profiling a young indigenous woman interested in providing services to the Palm Island community, with the aim of improving social and living conditions there. Students will learn that residents are interested and capable of addressing problems on Palm Island, with a view to establishing a viable future for the community. Young indigenous residents of Palm Island propose a future vision of, and enthusiasm for, genuine potential tourism opportunities on the island. Students will learn how employment opportunities (perhaps through tourism) is inextricably tied to the future social and economic prosperity on Palm Island. A range of oral, mainly positive, responses to the idea of introducing tourism on Palm Island. Students will gain further understanding of the issues surrounding ‘ownership’ of tourism on Palm Island, and
  6. 6. 6 Perspective Resource Description & Suitability 9/3799513.htm of the range of potential the community perceives for its future. 4. There should be no tourism on Palm Island because residents don’t want interference from outsiders. • Photograph: Palm Island Dancers, 1930 http://www.qhatlas.com.au/photograph/palm- island-dancers-1930 • Audio file: The Day Palm Island fought back. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacific/radio/ onairhighlights/the-day-palm-island-fought- back/954940 OPTIONAL: • Audio file Palm Island locals Lynndel, Harry, Raymond and Nina talk tourism http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2013/07/0 9/3799513.htm • Townsville Bulletin article 9/7/13 on page 2 ‘Island calm a tourism boon’ [in pdf form attached in Appendix A] purchased from http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/article/2 013/07/09/385132_news.html A black and white photograph of Palm Island tourism in 1930, where residents were regularly assembled to perform for ‘white tourists’. Students will learn some of the history of the settlement of the island – particularly the forced settlement of people from all over Queensland, with diverse traditions and customs, forced to conform to the white tourists’ expectations. Students will develop an understanding of older generations’ resistance to tourism on Palm Island, and the role of history in determining these attitudes. Excerpts will be played from this 14 minute oral history interview, detailing the heavy-handed arrests, removal and imprisonment of Palm Island residents in 1957, when they protested their rights to fair pay and better living and working conditions. Students will develop an empathic understanding of these conditions for Palm Island residents, who were completely disempowered. Students will realise that this experience, and others, are living memories for many Palm Island residents, who do not want strangers resuming control of their lives through modern-day tourism. This resource is also presented in Perspective 3, although Raymond’s opinion is particularly relevant here. Students will understand his stance more deeply, given Dulcie Isaro’s story above. A short article that provides detail about many of the social problems on Palm Island over recent decades, linking this with the direct results of ‘the worst of the mission days.’ Students will begin to understand the historical complexity of the issues surrounding current social problems on Palm Island, and to understand why some residents fear ‘interference’ from outsiders.
  7. 7. 7 Perspective Resource Description & Suitability • ‘Smash the Act’ poster c. 1972 http://indigenousrights.net.au/image.asp?iID= 562 A poster demanding equality and recognition of indigenous people in Queensland. This was designed as a direct response to conditions on Palm Island, and then spread statewide. Students will gain understanding of the extent of inequality that existed in living memory of many Palm Island families. 5. There should be no tourism on Palm Island because it would be a waste of money and resources – no tourist would want to visit Palm Island, it’s a terrible place. • The Tall Man – Trailer (2011) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2VcCzv RfpI&feature=share&list=PLAZOJZnmFZtDb GzS8PTeJEW7-u2Y_7C6l • Townsville Bulletin Facebook comments on the 9/7/13 article https://www.facebook.com/townsvillebulletin? fref=ts (as at 18/7/13, given in printed pdf form as in Appendix A] OPTIONAL: • The Age article 4/12/2004 Troubled paradise http://www.theage.com.au/news/National/Tro ubled- paradise/2004/12/03/1101923330365.html?fr om=moreStories# A short outline of the film referencing the death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee in 2004 on Palm Island. It portrays a sense of tension, violence and enduring inequality on Palm Island. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of community concerns, and need to relate this to the other perspectives on tourism. A cross-section of 45 public responses to the Townsville Bulletin’s Facebook link to its ‘Club Palm’ article. Students will understand that there are a range of comments, in terms of perspective, articulation and knowledge. Students will perceive the potency of language: for example, David Olsen’s comment, “Infamous riot township??? What an offensive wording”. Students will perceive a role for themselves in the space of public debate and discussion, along with the responsibility inherent to that. An extended article detailing the frustration and isolation of Palm Island residents in the aftermath of the death of Cameron Doomadgee in 2004. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of the social issues experienced by Palm Island residents on a daily basis, and of the connection between the historical experiences of the island and current problems and grievances. Students will incorporate this into developing their position on the study question regarding the potential for tourism on Palm Island.

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