UPDATE: Since this piece went live, TAFE NSW have contacted PEDESTRIAN.TV with the following statement:

As a Registered Training Organisation, TAFE NSW delivers the Certificate III In Hairdressing in line with the national training package, which is routinely updated in consultation with industry. The national training package requires training across all natural hair types including European, Asian, Euro-Asian and African, different textures including coarse, medium and fine; and different hair movements including straight, wavy, natural curl and chemical curl. This is specifically detailed in individual units of competence that make up the national training package.

2020 might be a shitstorm in many, many ways – but one good thing that’s come out of it has been a renewed push for change when it comes to existing social structures and how they oppress BIPOC.

While the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis saw thousands protest for police reform, globally the conversation has turned to the myriad of ways Black, Indigenous and People Of Colour are oppressed in seemingly innocuous ways.

One example of this was raised by Sydney-based hairdresser Chrissy Zemura on the weekend. Chrissy, who has been a hairdresser across all hair types for eight years, is petitioning TAFE to include Afro and curly hair in their curriculum, but she is also pushing for hairdressers in Australia to train up so there are more options for BIPOC when it comes to hairdressers.

“I have worked with too many hairdressers in the industry who are not educated about Afro & curly hair especially in the fashion industry where they will show up to a photoshoot or show without the training let alone the tools or products,” she told PEDESTRIAN.TV. “It’s a horrible experience for both parties involved.”

She took to Instagram with this informative carousel post, which highlights exactly what she believes needs to be included in Aussie education to ensure Australian stylists are equipped to work with all hair types, creating a more inclusive industry that offers services to all.

Chrissy says most international celebrities who have Afro or curly hair show up to shoots and film sets with their own hairdressers from overseas, because Australian hairdressers simply don’t have the training to work with their hair. It’s a gap in our own industry that’s costing local hairdressers jobs, she says. Not to mention the 1 million+ people who live in this country but struggle to access hairdressers trained in their hair type.

“It actually makes no sense to have a huge group of people who have textured hair saying they all have difficulties in accessing hairdressers who know how to take of their hair. Hairdressers are also interested in learning about Afro & curly hair. The demand is there, the need is there.”

If you’re thinking this is overkill, it’s not. There are fundamental – and crucial – differences between Afro hair and non-Afro hair structurally, and working with a textured hair type incorrectly can leave permanent damage.

“Textured hair can get damaged easily with heat and colouring,” Chrissy explains. “You have to mindful of not loosing that curl, coil or kink when colouring and using with curly hair. This is where product  and hair tools knowledge is vital. Once the curl, coil or kink is damaged, there’s no reviving it, it’s either you grow it out or cut it.”

She told P.TV the story of a client who had a hairdresser brush her hair – the brush got stuck so badly, it had to be cut out. Before she found Chrissy, she had resorted to cutting her own hair for a decade. “Almost all of my Afro & curly clients have had an awful experience in the hands of hairdresser.”

It’s clear Australian hairdressers are on board with the change. I originally saw Chrissy’s post when it was shared by my own hairdresser, Amanda Tua. Then, hyper-popular curly hair experts Mousey Browne shared the post. It’s gone viral in the Australian hairdresser industry.

If you want to help push for change, a great first step is to sign Chrissy’s petition here.  More than 9,000 have signed already.