NAIDOC Week is time when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples come together in different ways to connect to culture and country. NAIDOC Week is also a time when non-Indigenous Australians can grow their cultural awareness, knowledge and skills, participating in Indigenous community events.
In 2019, the NAIDOC Week theme Voice. Treaty. Truth. encourages us to recognise the importance of Aboriginal voices in our communities, the ways we still must go in developing and sustaining meaningful treaties with our Indigenous minorities and the painful and essential acknowledgment of our tumultuous history as nation. In this short article, we will discuss the Voice element of this years’ theme, developing ideas on how to sustain learning in your educational setting.
A child’s voice is an incredibly powerful tool for learning. From the moment children begin to experiment with the mechanics of their voice, to the exploration of power, autonomy and authority, a child’s voice becomes part of their identity.
With 2019 being the International Year of Indigenous Languages, there is no better time than now for educators and educational communities to explore and embed local Aboriginal language into the learning programme.
Sadly, the prevalance of Aboriginal dialects have significantly dropped since settlement, leaving just 20 used as a first tongue today (Jens Korff, 2019). Those still in existence and circulation are often due to the Aboriginal families who have fought hard to keep this important part of their cultural identity alive (Dau, 2016).
Where to start?
Identifying which languages and dialects are still alive and accessible to you is vital to begin your journey. You can research this through local councils, websites such as https://aiatsis.gov.au/ or by connecting with professional support services such as The Koori Curriculum.
It is also important to consider the families within your service who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and discuss plans together, as they may be able to assist with resourcing, knowledge and delivery.
Knowing what you want to achieve, as well as including the voice of the Aboriginal community into your research and planning cycle will be of most beneficial in ensuring authentic and meaningful learning experiences for all.
“In the language are our ideas and we need them, the world needs them.”— Bruce Pascoe, Aboriginal teacher. (Jens Korff, 2019).
Where to next?
How will you embed what you have learnt? How will you meaningfully engage children? Here are a few ideas we have gathered to assist you in taking the next steps:
- Begin everyday with an acknowledgment of country presented (in part or full) in your local Aboriginal language.
- Develop a meaningful and reciprocal relationship with Aboriginal elders and Aboriginal community members, inviting them to regularly visit and explore their language within the educational setting and beyond.
- Invite the children to decide how you will use your new knowledge in the daily programme. For example – naming different rooms in local language, greeting each other daily in local language or one of our favourites, creating a local Aboriginal superhero with a local Aboriginal name.
Start, or excel your journey this NAIDOC Week by embedding the culture and language of one of the oldest living continuous cultures in the world. Whether you are Noongar in the south-west corner of Western Australia, Worimi in eastern Port Stephens region of coastal New South Wales or Yugambeh living in South-East Queensland let’s stand together and celebrate.
Acecqa.gov.au. (2008). The National Quality Standard. [online] Available at: http://www.acecqa.gov.au/national-quality-framework/the-national-quality-standard [Accessed 20 May 2015].
Dau, E. (2016). The Anti Bias Approach in Early Childhood (3rd ed.). MultiVerse Publishing.
Jens Korff, C. (2019). Aboriginal languages. Retrieved from https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/language