Reconciliation work recognised at national level
Achieving recognition as a safe cultural space by local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has boosted Goodstart Shailer Park to win the inaugural 2018 Goodies Reconciliation award.
In the first year as a category in the Goodstart Early Learning Goodies awards, the Shailer Park team took out the award for their commitment to celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, art and community.
The Goodies recognise excellence in Goodstart centres and showcase the best practice and commitment to delivering high quality education for all of Australia’s children. There were 19 national winners this year, and more than 700 nominations submitted.
Shailer Park has nurtured strong and respectful relationships with the community from the beginning of their reconciliation journey, with the local elders asking the centre to host Aboriginal Children’s Day celebrations in August.
Centre director Kristy Morgan, who participated in the Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Perspectives in Early Childhood, said since 2012 she had been reflecting about the importance of embedding Indigenous perspectives in the centre.
“I identified that I needed to know more and this began a five-year journey for myself and my staff,” she said.
“When you connect with the history and culture, there is an intrinsic drive to ensure that respect and authenticity is given to embedding indigenous perspectives the work that do at the centre with the children.”
Seventeen centres throughout the national Goodstart network were eligible to nominate for the Reconciliation award.
These were centres with a published Narragunnawali Reconciliation Action Plan on the Reconciliation Australia website; with a demonstrated commitment to reconciliation with their centre’s local community.
Shalier Park connected elders to work on a plan to upgrade their outdoor space with the resulting area designed to mirror a meeting place like a piece of Aboriginal artwork. Yarning circles are connected by pathway and riverways to a meeting place in the middle.
The centre and the community also collaborate regularly to share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with the children. They hold an induction program called Walk on Country in partnership with Uncle Barry Watson, where they learn about the local area and sites of significance.
Here, educators gain new insights and perspectives that inform and enrich their understanding and knowledge base of culture, history and contemporary societies.
“We plan to continually work on our new partnerships, including children in our networking as often as possible,” Ms Morgan said.