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Reconciliation – taking action for change

Goodstart stories

At Goodstart, we recognise our responsibility to ensure the next generation of Australians grow up with connection to and understanding of our First Nations people, culture, and our true history.

Guided by our Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2020 – 2023, and inspired daily by our children, reconciliation is more than just a word. Goodstarters take action every day across more than 664 early learning centres and lay the foundation for lasting change. Take a look at Goodstart’s reconciliation impact and progress over 2021.

Reconciliation Impact and Progress

Local reconciliation action plans

From Yidinji, Gooreng Gooreng, Yuggera, Gadigal to Wurundjeri and Palawa Country on the east coast of Australia, across to Kaurna Country and Wadjuk Noongar in the west, up to Larrakia in the Northern Territory and across all nations of Australia, our centres take affirmative action for local reconciliation impact.
More than 664 Goodstart centres are on their journey utilising the Narragunnawali platform, with 348 RAPs (Reconciliation Action Plans) published.

A place of belonging for our First Nations people

In 2021, our Board and Leadership Team set a bold target to become one of our nation’s leading employers of First Nations people by 2025 — to make a marked and genuine impact on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, children and communities and create a stronger, thriving Goodstart.

Creating a sense of belonging for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people starts with strong cultural awareness among Goodstarters.

More than 76% of Goodstarters – some 12,351 Goodstarters – have now completed our foundational Cultural Awareness Training via Arrilla, marking the beginning of their personal reconciliation journey at Goodstart.

First Nations engagement grows

Employees identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander increased from 293 on FY2020 to 335 in FY2021.

More than 6.7 per cent of children attending Goodstart centres identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, compared to 5.8 per cent in 2020, 5 per cent in 2019 and 4.7 per cent in 2018.

Creating career pathways

Our partnership with CareerTrackers continues to grow, with Goodstart welcoming 12 university students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent to undertake internships over FY2020 at Goodstart centres and CSO teams.

First Nations voices at the heart of our work

Becoming the leading employer of First Nations Peoples, Goodstart must begin with listening to and learning from First Nations lived experiences, knowledge and aspirations.

In her third year at Goodstart, Melody Ingra, Goodstart’s Cultural Liaison and proud Gooreng Gooreng/Wakka Wakka woman from Yallarm (Gladstone Qld) has continued to amplify her impact across the nation, drawing on her years of experience as a teacher working alongside educators, teachers, centre directors and centre support Goodstarters to progress our cultural learning journey.

“Over the past year Reconciliation has truly become a movement across Goodstart, so many Goodstarters commenced their learning journey to unlearn, and re-learn,” Melody said.

“In the last year I’ve seen a real ignition of a passion for reconciliation at both a personal and professional level — and it’s that passion and commitment that will lead to a shared future.”

Senior Educator Lisa Walker, a Yuin, Yaegl, Kabi Kabi and Bundjalung woman who lives on Country in Northern NSW, has been seconded to the role of Cultural Design Lead in the Employee Diversity team to help create a stronger sense of belonging for First Nations Goodstarters.

Lisa established a fortnightly yarn with fellow First Nations Goodstarters, “to give them a voice and help drive the change” and states “being able to advocate for my people and give them a voice is what’s important to me.”

Deepening commitment to Torres Strait Islander culture

Goodstart appointed Torres Strait Islander Cultural Liaison Peter Pilot-Wakaisu (based in Cairns, Far North Queensland) to help deepen every Goodstarters knowledge and understanding of Torres Strait Islander culture, history, and achievements.

Peter, a Saisarem man from Erub (Darnley Island), will also play an important role in shaping Goodstart’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment initiatives.

“Goodstart is on its Stretch RAP journey which clearly outlines its path forward to support better outcomes for children, families and communities across Australia,” Peter said.

“A big part of its journey is its commitment to deepen its cultural awareness of Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage, which is unique to Aboriginal culture.

“We’re a diverse culture of five regions, with a vested interest in land and sea, and we have a great respect and commitment to the wellbeing of our children, parents and wider community,” he said.

In 2021, Goodstart celebrated culturally significant days including the 84th anniversary of local government in the Torres Strait region and 150 Years of Coming of the Light.

Read more about Peter’s appointment here.

Cultural immersion programs expands

The positive impact of Goodstart’s cultural immersion and secondment program in the Fitzroy Crossing,
Western Australia, run in partnership with Marinwarntikura over the past five years, has seen Goodstart invited to continue this two-way program in the Maningrida community in the Northern Territory.

Five educators undertook secondment at the Baya Gawiy Early Childhood Learning Unit in Fitzroy, and for the first-time, two educators, including one taking an educational leader role, were seconded for 12-months to support the local centre with its delivery of high quality and inclusive early learning. The first secondment of two educators to the Manayingkarirra Child and Family Centre in NT, in partnership with the NT Government, commenced in April 2021.

Community of Practice

Sixty nine (69) centres participated in Goodstart’s Community of Practice in 2021 to harness the collective knowledge, experience, and insights, to strengthen each other’s local reconciliation journey. All centres have formed new partnerships within their community, including women’s groups, yarning circles and engagement with local Elders and knowledge holders, and increased representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Goodstarters to double that of Goodstart’s overall representation.

Twenty (20) centres graduated as ‘Alumni’ and currently in phase 2 of the program which involves mentoring other centres with their RAP – to support their journey including building their own genuine community connections and sharing learnings.

Proudly wearing our support for ‘Heal Country!’

Every Goodstarter got behind a deadly initiative by Goodstart and BW Tribal — ordering more than 19,000 free Goodstart NAIDOC Shirts to proudly wear their support for, ‘Heal Country!’ — theme of NAIDOC Week (4–11 July) 2021. The initiative was thanks to a partnership between Goodstart and BW Tribal — a 100 per cent Australian Indigenous owned and operated business who worked in collaboration with deadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists — Leah Brideson “Maaruma-li” (Heal), Joel Sam — Dhawdhaypa Dhoey Nithapa (Healing The Land) and Kiya Watt — Healing Boodjah.

Read more about this initiative here.

Embracing National Reconciliation Week

Hundreds of our Goodstart to our centre support offices embraced National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June), which as an important time to reflect, discuss and take more action for reconciliation. In 2021 theme #MoreThanAWord was a powerful way for our 16,000 Goodstarters to reflect about our responsibility to ensure the next generation of Australians grow up with connection to and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, people, and our true history.

Read more about how our centres get involved and celebrated National Reconciliation Week here.
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