Kiya debuts on Play School in a bid to embed Indigenous language
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Kiya debuts on Play School in a bid to embed Indigenous language

by Freya Lucas

July 08, 2019

Iconic Australian children’s television program Play School introduced a new friend this morning, Kiya. Her debut is significant because it marks the beginning of NAIDOC week and represents a further commitment by broadcaster, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to embed Indigenous perspectives and viewpoints in ABC Children’s content. 


Kiya, who first graced our screens this morning in the special episode, Acknowledgement of Country, is a collaboration of artist Kiya Watt, Awe and Wonder, and Play School. Kiya is from Noongar country, in the southern corner of Western Australia where the word for “hello” is “kiya”. 


Kiya’s clothing is made with fabric designed by Kiya Watt, who had this to say about her design;


“The ocean has strong connection to Menang Noongars. The symbols and dots throughout the middle represent the strong spirit and movements of the ocean. The dark blue lines outlined with white dots show the waterholes (ngamar) where we would fish from to provide food for our families. The ocean, like boodjah (land), is our mother and we must honour and protect, and only fish enough to provide for our family.”


Many early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals were involved in bringing this episode to life, including Jessica Staines (of Koori Curriculum)  and Dr Red Ruby Scarlet, who consulted, outlined and advised on the episode. 


Dr Browyn Bancroft created the trees seen in the episode. Dr Bancroft is known to the sector for her work as an author and illustrator, being involved with the production of over 40 titles such as Possum and Wattle, Colours of Australia, E is for Echidna, and Malu Kangaroo


Aunty Tracey L Bostock, a prominent artist, features in both the beginning of the episode, and a song at the end. A variety of education and care professionals feature in the episode, showing how Acknowledgement of Country is used in practice at their services.


The episode featured First Nations presenters, Luke Carroll, Miranda Tapsell and Hunter Page-Lochard. The presenters shared information about their own country, and created  a map of Australia, sharing how to say hello in their language. Hunter Page-Lochard wrote this special episode.


Libbie Doherty, Head of Children’s Production said the special episode formed part of a broader extension of the Play School brand by producing unique digital content to amplify the Play School philosophy. 


“We’ve identified key areas of focus and have collaborated with specialists to create a series of one off Play School specials,” she said. 


“The first of these specials is Acknowledgement of Country launching in NAIDOC week. Get Ready For Bed will resonate with everyone struggling to get their little person to sleep and the very special, Beginnings and Endings, has been crafted to help families explain the cycle of life and the concept of death in an age appropriate way.”


The episode will shortly be available to view on iView, here. Prominent Indigenous Australian rapper, Baker Boy, has produced a cover of Hickory Dickory Dock, featuring English and Yolnu Matha language, in honour of NAIDOC week, which is available to view here. 

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