Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the National Reconciliation Symposium in Sydney. The Symposium was a two-day event with a range of inspirational speakers including representatives from the Australian Human Rights Commission, Kids Matter and representatives with Early Childhood Educational backgrounds. Building and nurturing strong relationships between Early Childhood Education and Care services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities was a central focus of the event. There were a number of key messages discussed, which apply to every educator working with young children, which included:
- Fairness is about everyone getting what they need, not everyone getting the same thing.
- In learning more and changing our practice, there are times when we will feel uncomfortable. That is ok, as this is when we really reflect, learn and make change.
- We need to look at ways to teach through culture, not about culture.
- We need to look at ways to support campaigns such as It Stops With Me and Recognise.
- Do not expect all Indigenous people to think the same and want the same things. Develop relationships with your families and your communities to learn and understand more about their expectations.
- We have a personal responsibility to learn more about the history of Australia and its people.
The Symposium encouraged all participants to commit to reconciliation and to identify realistic follow-up actions. It is hoped that these first actions will lead to ongoing reflection and questioning of our practices and to improved connections and relationships within our communities.
For more information, copies of the conference papers can be accessed here.
As part our commitment to reconciliation, the educators at Harrison have formed a RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan) Committee and will be working together to build strong and lasting relationships with the community. I have begun to build relationships with two services that are located in Alice Springs and the educators. We’re now emailing each other and we will hopefully begin Skype sessions with the preschool rooms.
Wendy Mackay, Centre Director of Harrison Early Childhood Centre