KIDS COLLEGE CELBRATES OUR SHARED AUSTRALIAN CULTURE
All Australian students and children need to grow up understanding and celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions to increase respect and build stronger relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider Australian community. Kids College respects our shared Australia culture and are actively teaching about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We are working with the Narragunnawali organisation and have developed our Reconciliation Action Plan. We have a yarning circle in our play space where we come together to tell dreamtime stories together. We foster a community of respect and honour for the traditional owners of our land.
What is the Narragunnawali Platform?
Narragunnawali supports schools and early learning services in Australia to develop environments that foster a higher level of knowledge and pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions.
Narragunnawali (pronounced narra-gunna-wally) is a word from the language of the Ngunnawal people, Traditional Owners of the land on which Reconciliation Australia’s Canberra office is located, meaning alive, wellbeing, coming together and peace.
Narragunnawali is perfectly suited to schools and early learning services that don’t have many Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student enrolments.
Narragunnawali’s is an online platform that provides practical ways to introduce meaningful reconciliation initiatives in the classroom, around our school and with the community. They have an online professional learning and have curriculum resource to support the implementation of reconciliation initiatives.
Through the Narragunnawali platform, we have developed our own Kids College Reconciliation Action plan.
Narragunnawali RAPs provide a manageable but whole-scale framework for driving reconciliation in education, with a holistic focus on strengthening relationships, respect and opportunities in the classroom, around the school and with the local community alike.
What is a RAP?
A “RAP” is a formal statement of commitment to reconciliation. A school or early learning service can develop a RAP using the Narragunnawali platform to register existing initiatives or to begin a new journey. RAP Actions are the commitments included in the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). There are 39 RAP Actions, each of which relates to relationships, respect and opportunities, as they play out in the classroom, around the school or early learning service and with the community. At Kids College we chose 16 actions to implement over a year across Kids College.
While a RAP represents a plan of action, it is important for schools and early learning services to ensure that their RAPs also function as ‘living documents’ – entering into the RAP development process with integrity; purposefully embedding RAP commitments into everyday practice; and engaging in ongoing critical reflection, consultation and collaboration with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and community members will help schools and early learning services to remain accountable to their selves and their communities and to contribute to active and sustainable change.
Kids College Acknowledgement of country in our RAP
Our early learning service recognises the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Country on which we live, work, learn and grow. All our staffing team and our children have the opportunity to show respect to Traditional Owners and Custodians by regularly conducting an Acknowledgement of Country at meetings and events throughout the year. We regularly read the acknowledgement of country aloud to the children.
What is reconciliation?
‘Reconciliation’ is a complex term that can mean many different things to many different people. In many ways, it can be considered quite a contestable term in that it implies an inherent or initial ‘conciliation.’ However, in acknowledging the truths of colonial Australia’s relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, it becomes clear that this relationship has been historically characterised by a number of (often intergenerational) injustices, such as physical violence, forced dispossession of traditional lands, and overt and unapologetic racism.
Drawing the very diverse perspectives around reconciliation together, and drawing on both national and international research, the landmark The State of Reconciliation in Australia report (2016) nevertheless found that, at its core, reconciliation comprises five integral and interrelated dimensions: historical acceptance; race relations; equality and equity; institutional integrity; and unity. Engaging with Narragunnawali provides an opportunity for educational communities to weave these dimensions together in positive and practical ways, and to harness the powerful role that education – learning, un-learning and re-learning – has to play within our nation’s reconciliation journey.
How does the Narraunnawali platform facilitate professional learning?
Narragunnawali’s professional learning resources are designed to be teacher-led and can be used individually, in small groups or during staff meetings. The resources helps build our staffing team’s staff awareness and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, and contributions, and to support the implementation of reconciliation initiatives. All professional learning resources are linked to RAP Actions, and aligned to the National Quality Standard (early learning) and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (primary and secondary).
KIDS COLLEGE RECONCILIATION PLAN CONSISTS OF THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS:-
RELATIONSHIPS IN THE CLASSROOM
Enhance teaching and learning • activities by engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from within the early learning service community.
Support educators to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures into the curriculum as outlined in the EYLF.
AROUND THE SCHOOL
Provide opportunities for staff to build and extend knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
WITH THE COMMUNITY
Coordinate a Welcome to Country • for significant events.
Celebrate National Reconciliation Week (NRW) from 27 May to 3 June each year.
Build relationships with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community that are founded on mutual respect , trust and inclusiveness.
RESPECT IN THE CLASSROOM
Teach about the concept, history and progress of reconciliation in Australia.
Raise awareness of current affairs and issues in the public domain that are of particular significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the process of reconciliation.
AROUND THE SCHOOL
Develop understanding of what it means to acknowledge Country, and provide everyone the opportunity to do so at meetings and events throughout the year.
WITH THE COMMUNITY
Fly or display the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags all year round to demonstrate pride and respect for Australia’s First Peoples.
OPPORTUNITIES IN THE CLASSROOM
Ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures are incorporated in curriculum planning, development and evaluation processes.
AROUND THE SCHOOL
Ensure policies are inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and aim to increase knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.
Encourage staff to be involved in the ongoing development and implementation of the RAP through staff development opportunities.
Effectively incorporate reconciliation into professional engagement with the ACECQA National Quality Standard.
WITH THE COMMUNITY
Celebrate RAP progress in the early learning service and throughout the community
Raise awareness of, teach about, and take positive action against racism.
At Kids College we teach about the Australian Aboriginal Flag
The Australian Aboriginal Flag was designed by artist Harold Thomas and first flown at Victoria Square in Adelaide, South Australia, on National Aborigines Day in July 1971. It became the official flag for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra after it was first flown there in 1972. Since then, it has become a widely recognised symbol of the unity and identity of Aboriginal people.
In view of the flag’s wide acceptance and importance in Australian society, the Commonwealth took steps in 1994 to give the flag legal recognition. After a period of public consultation, in July 1995 the Aboriginal flag was proclaimed a ‘Flag of Australia’ under the Flags Act 1953.
In 1997 the Federal Court recognised Harold Thomas as the author of the flag.
The Aboriginal flag is divided horizontally into halves. The top half is black and the lower half red. There is a yellow circle in the centre of the flag.
The meanings of the three colours in the flag, as stated by Harold Thomas, are:
- Black– represents the Aboriginal people of Australia.
- Yellow circle– represents the Sun, the giver of life and protector.
- Red– represents the red earth, the red ochre used in ceremonies and Aboriginal peoples’ spiritual relation to the land.
At Kids College we teach about the Torres Strait Islander Flag
The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by the late Bernard Namok as a symbol of unity and identity for Torres Strait Islanders. Adopted in 1992, it was the winning entry in a design competition run by the Island Coordinating Council, a Queensland statutory body representing the community councils in the Torres Strait.
In the same year it was recognised by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and given equal prominence with the Australian Aboriginal Flag.
In July 1995 the Australian Government recognised it, with the Australian Aboriginal Flag, as an official ‘Flag of Australia’ under the Flags Act 1953.
The Torres Strait Islander flag has three horizontal panels, with green at the top and bottom and blue in between. These panels are divided by thin black lines. A white Dhari(traditional headdress) sits in the centre, with a five-pointed white star beneath it.
The meanings of the colours in the flag are:
- Green– represents the land
- Black– represents the Indigenous peoples
- Blue– represents the sea
- White– represents peace
The Dhari represents Torres Strait Islander people and the five-pointed star represents the five island groups within the Torres Strait. The star is also a symbol for seafaring people as it is used in navigation.
We have already completed the action called ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags’. In each room we tailored the program to implement the meaning of the colours in the flag.
In the Baby room Discoverers program they painted the flag black, yellow and red. In the Toddler room Explorer program they finger dot painted a flag and whilst they were doing so, they were explained by the educators the meaning of the colours. In the 3 yr Kindy room Adventurer program they stuck crepe paper onto the page to create the flag and we discussed with them the meaning of the flags colours. In the 4 year kindy room Imagineers program they created a huge flag with bunched crepe paper and again learnt the meaning of the flag colours. The children were fascinated to learn the significance of the colours.
Kids College is currently teaching about Djeran, the season of adulthood
In the southwest of Australia, the Nyoongar seasonal calendar includes six different seasons in a yearly cycle. These are Birak, Bunuru, Djeran, Makuru, Djilba and Kambarang. Each of the six seasons represents and explains the seasonal changes we see annually. The flowering of many different plants, the hibernation of reptiles and the moulting of swans are all helpful indicators that the seasons are changing.
As we are now in April, all of the rooms have started to incorporate Djeran into their learning activities, this is an ongoing project so get excited to see what each room has in store for the season of Djeran!
Time to repair housing and shelter.
The lifestyle for the Nyoongar communities during Djeran
Djeran season at last sees a break in the really hot weather. A key indicator of the change of season is the cool nights that once again bring a dewy presence for us to discover in the early mornings.
The winds have also changed, especially in their intensity, with light breezes being the go and generally swinging from southerly directions (i.e. southeast to southwest). Many flying ants can be seen cruising around in the light winds.
Djeran is a time of red flowers especially from the Red flowering gum (Corimbia ficifolia), as well as the smaller and more petite flowers of the Summer Flame (Beaufortia aestiva). As you travel around the Perth area, you may also notice the red ‘rust’ and seed cones forming on the male and female Sheoaks (Allocasuarina fraseriana). Banksias start to display their flowers, ensuring that there are nectar food sources for the many small mammals and birds that rely upon them.
Traditionally, foods at this time of year included the seeds that had been collected and stored for treatment from the Zamia last season along with the root bulbs of the Yanget (Bullrushes), fresh water fish, frogs and turtles.
As the season progresses, the nights will become cooler and damper along with some cool and rainy days which also means that traditionally mia mias (houses or shelters) were now repaired and updated to make sure they were waterproofed and facing in the right direction in readiness for the deep wintery months to come.
The Rainbow Serpent Dreamtime Story
Long ago in the Dreamtime when the earth lay sleeping and nothing moved or grew, lived the Rainbow Serpent. Then one day the Rainbow Serpent awoke and come out from beneath the earth. Refreshed from her long slumber she travelled far and wide leaving winding tracks from her huge body and then returning to the place she had first appeared.
On her return she called to the frogs “come out!” The frogs came out slowly as their bellies were full with water which they had stored during their long sleep. The Rainbow Serpent tickled their stomachs and when the frogs laughed, the water spilled out all over the earth to fill the tracks of the Rainbow Serpent. This is how the lakes and the rivers were first formed.
With water, grass and trees began to grow which woke all the animals who then followed the Rainbow Serpent across the land. They were happy on earth and each lived and gathered food with their own tribe. Some animals lived in rocks, some on the vast plains, and others in trees and in the sky. The Rainbow Serpent made laws that they were all to obey but some began to make trouble and argue. The Rainbow Serpent said “Those who keep my laws will be rewarded; I will give them human form. Those who break my laws will be punished and turned to stone & will never to walk the earth again”. Those who broke the law became stone and were turned into mountains and hills and those who were obedient were turned into human form and were each given their own totem of the animal, bird or reptile from when they began. The tribes knew themselves by their totems – kangaroo, emu, carpet snake, and many, many more. So no one would starve, the Rainbow Serpent ruled that no man should eat of his totem, but only of other totems. This way there was food for everyone.
The tribes lived together on the land given to them by the Rainbow Serpent or Mother of Life and knew the land would always be theirs, and no one should ever take it from them.
Michael J Connolly
Teaching love and respect for diversity
The greater community and our country’s commitment to our Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander cultures set a foundation for respect and understanding that children need to grow up with. Each child is growing up being affected by the wonderful communities we live in. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory places child development in an ecological perspective, in which an individual’s experience is at the centre, within a nested interconnected systems of influences.
Each of us are part of each child’s nested systems of influence and we all shape our children’s minds. It is up to us all to teach love and respect.
KIDS COLLEGE FAMILY
At Kids College we work each day embedding our values and philosophy into each facet of what we do. We continually improve our practices by critically reflecting and engaging in meaningful relationships with our community and for this we need your support and input.
Let us know if you have any comments, suggestions, queries of know of any resources we night make use of. Make sure to follow Kids College Childcare on facebook, watch for our regular emails and keep an eye on our Kids College website. Share in our vision of creating the very best childcare where children experience love, laughter and learning every day. You can reach us on [email protected]
6.2.3 Community engagement. The service builds relationships and engages with its community.
Kids College Philosophy
‘We value our collaborative partnerships with professional, community and research organisations and enjoy playing an active role in shaping the future of early childhood education.’
‘We view the context of family, culture and diversity as central to children’s sense of being and belonging.’