Not only was she invited into the heart of the community to learn more about Indigenous culture, she also made lifelong friends during her 12 week secondment at Baya Gawiy Buga yani Jandu yani u Centre — an integrated early childhood education, care, health and wellbeing centre located in Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia.
“It was the greatest learning opportunity I could have had and given the opportunity I would go back again,” she said.
Takarlya has been an educator at Goodstart Numurkah in Victoria for seven years, working her way up from a nursery assistant to the lead educator in the pre-kindergarten room.
At Fitzroy Crossing she was an educator in the Jambilla Room, providing the predominately Indigenous three and four-year old children with a nurturing environment.
“I worked closely with a Walmajarri lady in that room who was the language teacher, so I supported her and she taught me some of the Walmajarri language,” she said.
Since her Fitzroy Crossing placement in late 2017, she has been made educational leader at her centre and has been working hard to ensure it is as culturally inclusive as it can be.
“I learned so much from my time (at Fitzroy Crossing), I have become more culturally inclusive; I thought I was culturally inclusive before I went but I didn’t have the information that I now have,” she said.
“I also learnt more about how to form professional relationships with Indigenous people and build on connections.”
Since her secondment, Takarlya has introduced elements of Indigenous culture to her pre-kindergarten room and across Goodstart Numurkah.
“One of the biggest lessons I learned was about the importance of embracing the Indigenous culture and it inspired me to do an Indigenous learning journey- first in my room and now across the entire centre,” she said.
“I’m currently building up a relationship and connection with a Koorie Engagement Support Officer and he is giving me some direction on how our centre can be more culturally inclusive and a culturally safe space.
“I have also researched the local tribe in Numurkah- the Bangarang from Yorta Yorta nation, and I have started a language book to introduce some of the words to the children.
" I have also incorporated the Aboriginal 8 Ways of Learning into my practices in the Pre-Kinder room which I am now spreading across the centre,” she said.
The 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning is a pedagogy framework that allows teachers to include Aboriginal perspectives by using Aboriginal learning techniques.
“The centre also does a daily Acknowledgement to Country followed by Indigenous songs.
From a personal perspective, Takarlya said she has made life-long connections with some of the people she met during her trip and experienced parts of the local culture she would never have otherwise had the opportunity to experience.
“I met a woman called Natalie from the Bunaba tribe who is a Ranger and we keep in touch and I share a lot of the ideas I have for my centre and she supports me to be more culturally inclusive,” she said.
“I really enjoyed forming relationships with the children and their families and all the other people that I met while learning about the culture and the history of Fitzroy Crossing.
“A highlight for me was getting the opportunity to go ‘On Country’ twice during my stay, which is when a local lady called Nam took us to her father’s country and showed us around,” she said.
“We saw an old water hole, which is where she would swim as a child and she showed us some rock art work and we swam in the quarry.
“The place we went was for women only, so we saw the stream where the mother’s take their children if they’re sick and they lie them in the water because it is healing water.”
Goodstart’s Fitzroy Crossing secondment program provides two educators per term the opportunity for secondment, bringing their experience and understanding back to further enrich Goodstart’s cultural knowledge.
Fitzroy Crossing is 397km from Broome and has been hosting Goodstart educators since the program launched in 2016.