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Natural environment inspires education in Fitzroy Crossing

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Out in Fitzroy Crossing in remote Western Australia, when there’s a fire, a particular species of crow will collect small sticks that are alight and drop those sticks in the bushes to scare out lizards it can hunt.  

Animal habits like these, the natural environment around them and seasonal changes are the focus of the daily education at the Baya Gawiy Buga yani Jandu yani u Centre in Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia.

Goodstart Nundah educator Emma Babcock recently embarked on a 12 week secondment at the centre, which has been hosting Goodstart educators since 2016 to encourage lessons about culture and inclusion to be shared with Goodstart centres around the country.

One of the main lessons Ms Babcock learned was how to use the land, the animals and things around them to inspire her daily learning program.  

“Out in Fitzroy Crossing they believe in a seasonal calendar, so they focus on the birds and the animals and when they are around,” she said.

“Since I returned to my centre I have tried to adopt that approach and focus on all the things around us.

“Some examples of this includes our resident magpies that like to swoop around the centre at the moment. I used this to create an entire learning program based on magpie studies.

“I am putting the lessons I learned out there into practice in my own centre every day by making sure there is always an indigenous undertone in the daily projects and programming and I am trying to ensure we always have a link to the local aboriginal people of Nundah- the Turubul people.” 

As a result of her experience with the predominantly Indigenous children and families of Fitzroy Crossing, Emma was recently chosen to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan for her centre. 

“While I will lead this process I believe it is so important that everyone within our service and our community is involved,” she said.

“One of the key things I learned in Fitzroy Crossing is that if we are trying to make reconciliation happen it is not going to happen with just one or two people are the only ones focussed on making change, we all have to be involved, the more people involved the better,” she said.

Emma said her experience working and living in Fitzroy Crossing was indescribable. 

“Before I went to Fitzroy Crossing I knew it was going to be a life changing experience and not what I was used to but I never could have imagined what it was really like, it was like going to a different world,” she said.

“The first things that hits you is the extreme isolation out there. It is so physically isolated. In the middle of desert, but so beautiful and different from anything I was used to.”

She said a highlight of her experience was the opportunity she had to meet local people and the surprise she felt when she realised how much they had enriched her life.

“The people you meet out there and the relationships you develop with the children and their families are inspiring and eye opening and I was very privileged to hear their stories,” she said.

“Living and working in Fitzroy Crossing was an equally inspiring and challenging experience that not many people get to experience in their lifetime.

“Becoming immersed in the community in the way that you are in Fitzroy Crossing is really a once in a lifetime experience.”

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