In October and November we celebrate the Noongar season of Kambarang. We also were proud to be part of the First Nations Bedtime Stories Challenge. It is important for all Australians to have an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, including their unique connection to the land, seas, skies and waterways.
We are developing our own cultural competence as adults and are teaching our children the rich history of our nations first peoples. We embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders history and cultures into the Early Years learning Framework and we incorporate reconciliation into our professional engagement with the ACECQA National Quality Standards
Kambarang was October and November, which was dryer and had less rain. The Noongar people moved back towards the coast to catch frogs, tortoises and freshwater crayfish
Meaning ‘rains decreasing’, this season from October to November was signalled by the vibrant flowering of the Western Australian Christmas Tree (moodjar or Nuytsia floribunda).
Kambarang was a season of plenty, with an abundance of food available such as fruit, yams and birds’ eggs. Kooyal (frogs), yaarkin (tortoises) and gilgie (freshwater crayfish) were delicacies enjoyed in this season; these were caught by hand in swamps and wetlands.
The season also brought a natural increase in game. Pits and traps were used to collect possums and kangaroos.
Supplies of gum from wattle trees were collected, and yams (Dioscorea hastifolia) were dug up by women using long wanna (digging sticks). The shoots and tips of the yams were thrown back into the holes they were dug from, to ensure a new crop would grow the following year.
THE LEGEND OF THE FLOWERS
After Baiame left the earth and gone to live his his far-away land of rest on top of the Sacred Mountain all the flowers that grew on the plains and the stony ridges and the trees withered and died and none grew again in their place. The earth looked bare and desolate with no flowers to brighten it. As the flowers were gone, so were the bees and consequently the honey.
The People asked the Wirinuns [the Clever Ones] to go and ask Baiame if he could cover the earth again with the flowers so it would be made beautiful again. The Wirinuns journeyed until they came to the foot of the Sacred Mountain and began climbing and after 4 days they reached the summit and were greeted by the Spirit Messenger of Baiame. They told the Spirit Messenger they came to ask Baiame for some flowers to make the earth beautiful again which will bring back the bees and give honey to their People. The Spirit Messenger lifted the Wirinuns into the Sky Camp where fadeless flowers never ceased to bloom and told the Wirinuns they could gather as many as they could hold in their hands as they were good People and had obeyed Baiame’s Lores of the Land. The Sky Camp of Baiame was a land of beauty; flowers blooming everywhere in such splendour as they had never seen before they looked like rows of rainbows laid on the grass. The Wirinuns cried tears of joy as they had never seen such beauty.
The Spirit Messenger returned the Wirinuns to their People laden with armfuls of the blossoms from the Sky Camp and told them the earth shall never again be bare of such blossoms and fragrance. The Wirinuns scattered the flowers far and wide. Some fell on the tree tops, some on the plains, and ridges and where they fell they have grown ever since. It is the work of the bees of Baiame from the blossoms of the Sky Camp to make Yarraga [the spring wind] blow the rain down the Sacred Mountain that the trees, shrubs and flowers may blossom and the earth bees make honey.
Michael J Connolly
The First Nations Bedtime Stores Challenge
6-20 November 2020
The First Nations Bedtimes Stories challenge is a fun way to learn about First Nations cultures. Together we can help bridge what gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people and build a united future.
The initiative consists of five short films, each around five minutes. The films are shared online. This gives the opportunity to watch the dreaming stories told directly to them by First Nations knowledge custodians. These dreaming stores are foundations of First Nations cultures, and will be told in both English and their original languages.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, storytelling is the means of teaching knowledge and histories to the younger generations. But few non-Indigenous Australians have the opportunity to hear from First Nations people, and their stores are at risk of being lost.
The First Nations Stories Challenge is a week of coming together to learn about these incredibly valuable cultures.
What is the dreamtime?
The ‘dreaming’ or the ‘dreamtime’ is an oral history of the world and it’s creation, shared by the first nations people. Passed down through generations, these stories commonly feature examples of how to behave or how not to behave in this way, the dreaming teaches morals for living and interacting with the natural world. Dreaming stories are linked to specific places, for example landmarks, bodies of water, and the stars. They explain the connection between First Nations People, and the land, animals and plants.
Throughout the First Nations Bedtime Stories Challenge we represent First Nations identities through knowledge and stories that develop an understanding of the interconnected elements of Country/Place, Culture and People. The stories will allow students to develop knowledge about First Nations Peoples’ Lore, languages, dialects and literacies through the exploration of diverse First Nations Cultures. These relationships are linked to the deep knowledge traditions and holistic world views of Aboriginal communities and or Torres Strait Islander communities. Through participating in the First Nations Bedtime Stories Challenge people will understand that Identities and Cultures have been, and are, a source of strength and resilience for Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples against the historic and contemporary impacts of colonisation.
Acknowledgement of country for the First Nations Bedtime Stories Challenge
We’d like to acknowledge the Traditional owners of the lands on which this resource was created, and acknowledge the enduring connection of the First Nations people, communities and Ancestors who have been looking after this land since time immemorial. We specifically acknowledge the Elders, knowledge holders and storytellers who have been a part of this initiate.
Bedtime stores challenge at Kids College
We have chosen to concentrate on one story, The Lost Joey for our bedtime stories week.
The Lost Joey
The story shares the journey of a little kangaroo that gets lost. The poor young kangaroo couldn’t find his way home. He went wandering around, asking for his mother.
The sun was hot. The Joey was cooling down under the shade on his own, and getting very hungry. As he got more hungry he kept looking for his mother, but he couldn’t find his mother’s tracks.
He ended up in the hills and he saw a euro, and asked, “Are you my mother?”
The euro said “No, I’m a euro, I live in the hills. You’re a kangaroo, so you should look for your mother out in the spinifex country.”
He started looking around further and then saw a big perentie (lizard). He said, “Are you my mother?” The perentie said, “No, I’m not your mother.”
He continued looking for his mother, and came across a bird and eventually a bush turkey. He asked the turkey, “Are you my mother?”, the bush turkey said, “I’m not your mother. You’re a kangaroo! Your mother would be out in the desert where there’s lots of spinifex.”
So he kept looking and looking for his mother.
Eventually he heard some noises, and looked around and yelled out, “Are you my mother?” And it was his mother! Finally, his mother was there, and he was very happy to see her.
Robin Japanangka Granites
This is a story from Robin Japanangka Granites. At the beginning of the story, Robin shares
that he is a Warlpiri (“wawl-puh-ree”) man from Yuendumu (“yun-du-mu”). He gives an Acknowledgement of Country to the Arrernte (“Uh-rrahn-da”) people of Mparntwe (“mm-barn- doo-uh”) (Alice Springs) where this story is filmed.
The story shared by Robin Granites shares lessons about the importance of family and knowing your Country and your connection to place. Robin also shares a song in Warlpiri, that tells of the travelling kangaroo as he looks for his mother and tries to comprehend his connection to Country to allow him to get back to his mother.
What does this story teach?
- Understanding of the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander languages.
- Awareness and understanding of the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander personal, family and community identities.
- Strengthen understanding of the relationship between country/place, people and culture.
What are the Early years Learning Framework outcomes around this story?
EYLF Outcome 1.3 – Children develop knowledgeable and confident self identities.
EYLF Outcome 2.2 – Children respond to diversity with respect.
EYLF Outcome 2.4 – Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment.
EYLF Outcome 4.1 – Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity.
EYLF Outcome 4.4 – Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials.
EYLF Outcome 5.1 – Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes.
EYLF Outcome 5.2 – Children engage with a range of texts and gain meaning from these texts.
Kids College children enjoying the story
Before we started the story, we explained to the children who is telling the story and did our Kids College acknowledgement of country. An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for anyone to show respect for Traditional Owners and the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Country. It can be given by both non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Our version of our Acknowledgement of country for our adults and for our children supports us to respect and value our nations elders.
We used the Map of Indigenous Australia (AIATSIS) to first show the children where Robin comes from – Warlpiri country. Then we showed them Arrernte country on the map because Robin is a visitor on Arrernte Country he is acknowledging the country and the Arrernte people of Mparntwe.
We found the Country our centre is on using the AIATSIS map and acknowledged the Country we are meeting on, the Whadjuk Noongar region. We then enjoyed the film together and discussed how the little Joey would be feeling and what he should do.
We also made and did a puppet show with the characters from the story. We listened to the song and enjoyed trying to learn the new words.
We used the pictures to bring the story to life.
A euro is a type of macropod also known as a Wallaroo similar to ta Wallaby or a kangaroo.
Bush turkey is a type of bird that can be found on Arrernte county.
A perentie is a type of lizard, similar to a goanna.
Spinifex is a type of grass.
Arrernte is hilly country.
Embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders history and cultures into the Early Years learning Framework
(RAP Action 2)
We commit to seeking out meaningful connections between our vision and plans for reconciliation and the principles, practices and outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework. Establishing a strong relationship between the two will ensure reconciliation is meaningfully embedded in everyday early learning environments.
The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) was developed by the Australian and state and territory governments with input from the early childhood sector and early childhood academics.
Curriculum documents, such as the EYLF, are essential to the effective education of children in early learning services. An important aspect of the EYLF is teaching about diversity, specifically Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being, and appreciating how these teaching practices impact the hearts, minds and actions of early learners.
Educators’ teaching and learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being is supported by the principles and practices of the EYLF, and will contribute to supporting the Framework’s five intended learning outcomes. These principles, practices and desired learning outcomes guide teachers and educators in their professional practice and ensure a minimum standard of quality is achieved across early learning environments.
The most obvious of the professional practice principles that speaks to the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions, is Principle 4 – Respect for diversity. As recognised by the EYLF, respecting diversity includes valuing and reflecting the practice, values and beliefs of children’s families and communities, and honouring their histories, cultures, languages and traditions. For Australia, it also includes promoting greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being, recognising that the diversity of our First Peoples’ cultures and identities contributes to the richness of our society and provides a valid evidence base about ways of knowing more broadly.
Beyond Principle 4—the place of reconciliation within all principles, practices and learning outcomes
Teachers and educators working with the EYLF are encouraged to view “children’s learning as integrated and interconnected”. Taking this into consideration, we view our programming around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions as being interconnected with all the other principles, practices and learning outcomes within the EYLF.
As an example, Principle 1 of the EYLF contains an imperative to build respectful and reciprocal relationships. This can be directly connected to the call for stronger “relationships based on trust and respect” within the Race Relations dimension of reconciliation.
Practice 6 – Cultural Competence – supports the development of respectful relationships by reinforcing a commitment to two-way learning processes and effective interaction with others. This ultimately fosters the achievement of Outcome 5 – Children are effective communicators – through learning and development in effective communication and cross-cultural interaction.
Effectively incorporate reconciliation into professional engagement with the ACECQA National Quality Standards
(RAP Action 15)
The National Quality Standard has been developed as a means of ensuring quality and consistent care and education is provided to all Australian children attending long day care, family day care, preschool/kindergarten, and outside school hours’ care. Committing to this RAP Action shows how we are progressing with reconciliation within the expectations of the NQS.
The quality areas of the NQS provide a framework to guide professional practice for early learning educators. The Standards within each Quality Area of the NQS concentrate the Quality Areas into several high level outcome statements. The goal of these Standards is to support educators in their work toward achievement in a Quality Area.
As part of their active attention to Quality Area 6 in particular, Educators are encouraged to make connections and engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, however the other Quality Areas also contain relevant points of connection to reconciliation, and to engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and perspectives more broadly.
ACECQA, the National Quality Framework and the National Quality Standard
The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) is the national authority for early learning education and care. The main role of ACECQA is to guide the administration of the National Quality Framework (NQF) to ensure consistent implementation across all states and territories.
The National Quality Standard (NQS) is a key aspect of the NQF and sets a high, national benchmark for early childhood education and care, and outside school hours care services in Australia. In making decisions about operating education and care services and working to achieve the NQS to improve quality at services, the guiding principles of the NQF apply.
These principles are:
• The rights and best interests of the child are paramount.
• Children are successful, competent and capable learners.
• Equity, inclusion and diversity underpin the framework.
• Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are valued.
• The role of parents and families is respected and supported
• Best practice is expected in the provision of education and care services.
Therefore, being part of reconciliation, and progressing reconciliation in our service, fits within the expectations of both the NQF and NQS.
The National Quality Standard (NQS) and reconciliation
Through all 7 of its core Quality Areas, and their corresponding Standards and Elements, The NQS provides many opportunities to engage in reconciliation and promote positive attitudes toward Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including histories, cultures and contributions.
Examples of the connections between NQS and our RAP:-
• RAP Action Visibly Demonstrate Respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultures, has connections to Quality Area 3 – Physical Environment, and its corresponding Standard 3.2 – The environment is inclusive, promotes competence, independent exploration and learning through play.
• RAP Action Cultural Competence for Staff is strongly aligned to Quality Area 4, Standard 4.2 – Management, educators and staff members are respectful and ethical, including in their active understanding of, and appreciation for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being, and in their relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the classroom .
• RAP Action Build Relationships with Community is integrally interrelated to Quality Area 6 which, not only in terms of Element 6.2.3 (Community Engagement) but indeed across all Elements, encourages Educators to make meaningful connections and engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Reflections on how we promote reconciliation
within the National Quality Standards
As educators we reflect on how our engagement with all Quality Areas the NQS works to promote reconciliation, and includes an active attention to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions in daily practice and programming.
- As a staff, we use both the Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standard (NQS) to guide a discussion about where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being can be included in our service’s curriculum and professional practice.
- We engaged in a reflective audit: Critically reflecting on, and evaluating, ways that our teachers and educators already engage with reconciliation in their professional practice, as informed by the National Quality Standard
- We are using an appropriate Quality Improvement Plan template, we take into account where our educators feel they sit, in regard to their understandings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being under each quality area of the National Quality Standard.
- We progress our Quality Improvement Plan based on this information, focusing our improvement and planning on how we can increase engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in each quality area.
- As part of our broader Quality Improvement Plan review and update, we ensure that we take into account the reconciliation goals set during this process.
- We provide professional learning opportunities. We have ensured that professional learning opportunities includes opportunities to better understand the National Quality Standard and how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions should be incorporated.
Cultural competence for staff
(RAP Action 3)
At Kids College we reflected on our current level of cultural competence and provide staff with a range of opportunities to build and extend their knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. We also committed to supporting our staffing team to independently seek out and participate in a variety of cultural awareness experiences that assist them on their own journey of understanding
It is important for all Australians to have an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, including their unique connection to the land, seas, skies and waterways. Cultural competence opportunities can help to improve the level of knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures amongst staff, which is the basis for building better relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the wider community.
We provide opportunities for staff at various points on their cultural competence journey to build and extend their knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
Cultural competence – what is it, and why does it matter to reconciliation?
Broadly speaking, cultural competence is a process that involves a critical exploration of context, power, privilege and difference to support the development of attitudes, values, knowledge and understanding that combine to allow for effective action within cross-cultural environments, conversations and collaborations.
To elaborate, “cultural competence is the ability to understand, interact and communicate effectively and with sensitivity, with people from different cultural backgrounds. Cultural competence is a personal capability that is not necessarily innate, but which develops over time. A precondition is a deep awareness of one’s own identity since it involves examining one’s own biases and prejudices. A culturally competent person is able to empathise with how people from other cultures might perceive, think, interact, behave and make judgements about their world.” – Martin & Vaughn, 2007, Cross et al, 1989 in Northern Territory Department of Education and Training (2010) Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives in Schools.
It is important to appreciate that there is no single definition of cultural competence, or of related concepts such as ‘cultural awareness,’ ‘cultural safety,’ ‘cultural security,’ and ‘cultural capability’ which, although sometimes interchangeably referenced, do represent distinct concepts/models.
Cultural competence is central to driving reconciliation in action
• Historical acceptance: Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures resiliently represent the oldest continuous cultures on the planet. Nonetheless, it is imperative for all Australians to truthfully and holistically understand the injustices directed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures since colonisation, and the (often intergenerational) impacts of these wrongs. Only in understanding and accepting the wrongs of the past can Australia make appropriate amends for these wrongs and ensure that they are never repeated into the future.
• Race relations: actively supporting all Australians to understand and value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous cultures results in stronger relationships that are based on trust and respect, and that are free of racism.
• Equality and equity: as well as providing a platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to participate equally in a range of life opportunities, it is important for the unique rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be actively recognised and upheld. In the context of Australia’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples, this includes an explicit focus on respecting, protecting and promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and cultural difference.
• Unity: a reconciled Australia comprises a society that values and recognises the tens of thousands Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and cultural heritage, as a proud part of a shared national identity and celebration of unity in diversity.
• Institutional integrity: Reconciliation Action Plans, within which cultural competence for staff is considered a minimally required Action area, provide a framework for fostering institutional integrity – the active support of reconciliation across the nation’s political, business, educational and community structures alike.
Cultural competence – how do we work towards it?
It is important to recognise that cultural competence is an ongoing, lifelong learning process – often involving elements of ‘un-learning’ or re-learning – rather than an ‘end state’ or ‘final destination.’ Given that cultures themselves are dynamic, cultural competence corresponding involves continual learning that evolves over time.
At Kids College we are working towards cultural competence with our commitment to the reconciliation process. We have a Kids College Reconciliation Action Plan that guides us through the processes and information we need to build our knowledge and confidence bit by bit as we learn together over the years as adults together and for our children and community.
An example of part of our learning is how we identified a need to investigate our specific regions heritage and have shared this knowledge via our articles on website and facebook posts, as well as within the centre.
National Quality Standards
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.’
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]
With love, laughter and learning from your friends in the
‘village it takes to raise a child’
Teacher Jen and the Kids College Childcare family