Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people cultures are valued and significant in Australia and it's essential for educators to help children understand the history, culture and lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
"Aboriginal Education is not only appropriate education of Aboriginal students but also must involve the education of ALL children about Indigenous Australia" - (Aboriginal Education Policy, NSW, AEGG Inc, 1995).
The NQS emphasises the importance of early childhood services forming partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. For non indigenous educators, we are often scared about "getting it wrong" or being "tokenistic" in programming, but the most important thing is to make a start and then keep going. It's important to engage with the culture - have a personal connection and going thorough the proper avenues to gain an understanding of the culture and build relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. If using a national event such as NAIDOC week, it's a good opportunity to start learning, then it provides a good foundation to keep going forward.
It's important that we educate ourselves to feel confident in passing on knowledge about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures to all children in a meaningful and informed way. As educators it's vital we increase our knowledge of Aboriginal Australia from past to present which will assist us to create accessible and inclusive environments.
Supporting Educators Learn About Aboriginal Australia
To promote access and inclusion within the service and assist educators to develop their knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal Australia the following strategies may help:
- Attend relevant training
- Meet and talk with Aboriginal people outside of the service
- Consult with local Lands Council, Aboriginal cultural centres etc.
- Access resources from organisations such as Indigenous professional Support Unit (IPSU), the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) etc.
- Gain an Aboriginal perspective of different matters by reading widely outside of mainstream media.
- Watch Indigenous television programs such as National Indigenous Television Network (NITV).
- Listen to Indigenous radio programs.
- Learn about your local community's Indigenous history and heritage.
Including Aboriginal Australia Within The Service
It's recommended to create a whole service plan for inclusion that involves all educators and families. The plan needs to incorporate objectives and strategies and support all children within the service to have a better understanding and connection with Aboriginal Australia.
The following are strategies that your service can use to begin and acknowledge Aboriginal Australia.
- Acknowledge Of Country at all meetings and important events, including meetings with children.
- For events with significant meaning, consult with local Elders groups or land councils about a Welcome to Country.
- Create a calendar of indigenous events that can be celebrated at the service. Add local events that are happening within the Indigenous community to the parent and staff notice board.
- Invite indigenous performers and artists into the service and hold workshops for children and families.
- Network with local Aboriginal community and partner with them on a specific project.
- Invite Elders from your local community to take part in celebrations and significant events.
- Name an area in your service in a local language, Consult with local Aboriginal Lands Council in regards to protocol and use of language in your local community.
- Set up a "sister service" in country or remote areas. Stay in contact through internet or exchange postcards or mail.
- Plant a tree in your service to acknowledge a significant date on the Indigenous calendar.
- Play traditional Indigenous games.
- Ensure your service has a range of Indigenous resources - maps, flags, music, puzzles, books, dolls, videos, posters etc.
To implement genuine inclusive environments than a meaningful understanding acknowledgement and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is essential.
As educators, we play an important role in helping children to create a positive perspective, understanding and appreciation for Australia Aboriginal and Torres Stit Islander history, culture and lives.
- Bamford M & Maguire, K. (2012) - Including Aboriginal Australia In Your Service. Sydney
- NQS - Professional Learning Program (2013) - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultures In ECE. - Early Childhood Australia