The theme of the 2019 National Reconciliation Week “Grounded in Truth: Walk Together with Courage” recognises that for true reconciliation to occur we must acknowledge the past to heal our historical wounds. The theme also explores how truth must form the foundation for our future conversations, relationships, interactions and decision making.
National Reconciliation Week or any cultural celebration involving the Indigenous community does not need to be surrounded with controversy. We do need to acknowledge and accept that the past has damaged the way of life for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, however we also need to look to the future with positivity, becoming part of the change in our nation’s history.
Gaining an understanding of the past, respecting the valuable heritage Australia’s past brings to the nation and valuing this as part of our shared culture is essential to progress forward in restoring and nurturing positive race relations.
At times, educators can feel a sense of uncertainty when discussing ideas with children that may be deemed as sensitive. Our history as a nation can bring about complex conversations that require thoughtful and understanding responses that are age appropriate. It is important that we remain open to discussion and carefully plan for meaningful and authentic experiences for children.
What does this look like in an early learning centre?
- Recognise the past on a daily basis by starting your day with a Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country.
- Read a variety of books that allow children to learn about Aboriginal heritage as well as creation stories from The Dreaming that teach children about the spiritual world.
- Plan for children to engage in Aboriginal art regularly in your program. Music, visual art, dance and drama are effective for children to learn about the importance of the arts in Aboriginal culture.
- Invite Aboriginal dance groups into your service to perform and share how their stories are often communicated through movement.
- Look to a change in the future by projecting your knowledge and passion beyond the front gate and into the community. Contact your local council about creating a small mural or exhibition on council land in a popular place. This will encourage community members to ask questions and become part of the learning.
There is no better time than National Reconciliation Week to propel yourself and your service forward by identifying your existing knowledge, realising areas of interest to develop and contacting your local Indigenous community to gain a more comprehensive understanding of ways Aboriginal heritage can be embedded into your program.
For further information regarding events in your local area visit the national reconciliation website. https://www.reconciliation.org.au/national-reconciliation-week/