Aussie Hairdressers Call For Mandatory Afro And Curly Hair Training At TAFE

It’s currently not on the syllabus

On the 13th of June, Australian hairdresser Chrissy Zemura posted a petition to include Afro and textured hair education in Certificate III Hairdressing. It now has close to 20,000 signatures. 

Having worked as a hairdresser for eight years, Zemura has seen many heartbroken women with Afro and curly hair mistreated by stylists who don’t know how to deal with their texture.

“In Australia, so many black women, Indigenous people and people of colour are deprived of skilled hair care,” she wrote. “Beauty standards have whitewashed us into believing only straight hair is beautiful.” 

EdwardsAndCo similarly noticed a lack of education this year, when requests for afro hairstyling tutorials came flooding in through their social channels. Australian hairdressers were finishing apprenticeships not knowing how to service all clients.

I have taught myself how to style Afro hair because I am a hairdresser and it is my responsibility,” said Natalia Humphrey, a hairdresser at the salon. “As hairdressers, we need to have enough respect to take the time to learn how to service afro hair until the time comes that it is a mandatory requirement of a hairdressing apprenticeship”

Inspired by Zemura’s petition, EdwardsAndCo have since been working to shine a light on the issue,it’s important for us to keep the conversation around racial discrimination going and never allow things to ‘go back to the way they were’ just because the media stops reporting,” Humphrey tells Marie Claire. “The key thing I want people to take away is that it is their responsibility to take action on racial injustice, even if you think it doesn’t affect you personally.”

Using their platform of over 135k Instagram followers, EdwardsAndCo handed over to client Nina Ryan, to speak on the topic and share her hair story.

My own experience and encounters with hairdressers and salons alone was enough for me to completely get behind this initiative with EdwardsAndCo,” she says. “Growing up bi-racial in an almost exclusively White arena gave me an acute awareness of my differences, which were particularly highlighted on the occasions of going to the hairdresser.”

“[I had] salons turn me away because they weren’t confident, comfortable or experienced enough to ‘tackle’ my hair.”

By joining forces with Edwards&Co, Ryan hopes to help get the curriculum at TAFE updated, and gives a shout out to Zemura in the video for starting the initiative.

As of one week ago, Zemura posted an update on the petition saying she had met with Wendy Blair from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, as well as NSW TAFE and SkillsIQ representatives. 

TAFE NSW is now considering sourcing mannequin heads with curly and Afro hair to facilitate training,” she wrote. “I am grateful to the entire industry for getting behind this campaign and being truly supportive of this change. I will be working with SkillsIQ on the changes to be introduced in the curriculum.”

Hopeful that change will eventuate, Ryan tells hairdressers in the meantime not to see textured hair and Afro hair as a monumental challenge. “At the end of the day it is just hair after all!” she says. “Don’t be afraid to have a consultation with a client because they most likely have a pretty good idea what does or doesn’t work for their hair type.”

Humphrey seconds this sentiment saying, “there is no secret to afro hair, there are tips such as cutting dry, or using super hydrating products, but that is just common sense.”

“Everyone who walks into a salon has the right to be serviced. Until the time comes that it is a mandatory requirement of a hairdressing apprenticeship, we need to have enough respect to teach ourselves the skills and there is so much information available online.”

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