Speak the truth – in understanding each others’ stories, we all grow: Reconciliation Week
National Reconciliation Week is acknowledged in Australia between 27 May and 3 June. The theme for this year’s acknowledgement is “Grounded in Truth: Walk Together with Courage”.
For some community members, Reconciliation Week is a time to mark loss, and a time to remember. For others, Reconciliation Week is a celebration of new life, and new opportunities to forge a more equal Australia.
Reconciliation Australia offers the following guidance to early childhood education and care (ECEC) services considering how best to participate in, and acknowledge, Reconciliation Week: “At the heart of reconciliation is the relationship between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.To foster positive race relations, our relationship must be grounded in a foundation of truth.”
In acknowledgement of Reconciliation Week, Playgroup Australia has called on those working or volunteering with children from birth to “remember first and foremost the importance of togetherness. To rally the vital importance of friendship, companionship and camaraderie in strengthening relationships between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.
By engaging in tough conversations with courage, and by seeking opportunities for positive change for all Australian communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Playgroup Australia said, it was possible for Reconciliation Week to represent hope for a shared future and healing for all people.
CEO of the organisation, Fiona May, emphasised the inclusive role that Playgroup Australia has played in the social landscape of the nation for the past 45 years, saying “Playgroup Australia was founded to advocate togetherness and support for families.For the past 45 years, the core role of playgroups has not changed. Rather it has adapted to embrace and strengthen greater community cohesion.”
“Driven by local parents, caregivers, volunteers and educators – playgroups represent community, culture and compassion – a place where all can join together to create a village through play. We value and welcome the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children and families at playgroups across Australia.”
Ms May emphasised the role that ECEC educators, parents, caregivers and other adults in the community play in shaping and forming children’s lifelong values and attitudes around topics such as inclusion and reconciliation. As a collective, Playgroup Australia asked that all those involved in caring for children were mindful of their behaviours, saying:
“Let us ensure our behaviours reflect the importance of friendship and of raising a community where all can join together to play, share, connect and grow. Let us ensure that all children enter the world to receive love, nurturing and reassurance connected to family and grounded in culture. Let us create communities that support children to preserve trust in themselves and others, an eagerness to befriend, empathy towards others without judgement, so they can grow to feel safe and strong. Let us too, look to children as examples of community and solidarity – so we can be leaders of respect and care for everyone.”