Goodstart Elizabeth Vale recognised for RAP in 2019 Narragunnawali Awards
The team at Goodstart Early Learning Elizabeth Vale, located in South Australia, have received a commendation for their Reconciliation Action Plan in the 2019 Narragunnawali Awards.
The centre was one of three early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings in the country to be recognised. Located in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, the Elizabeth Vale centre has 72 licenced places, and is rated as Exceeding the National Quality Standards.
Feedback received by Elizabeth Vale from judges, including Reconciliation Australia, noted that “while this early learning service is still in the early stages of its reconciliation journey, the sense of integrity with which this journey has been approached, and the growth and success of the journey within such a short period of time, is to be commended.”
Recognising that the service has formed strong community relationships, judges praised Elizabeth Vale for ensuring that the “specific, equitable and culturally responsive opportunities” were provided for Aboriginal children and families, but also gave opportunities for all children to meaningfully connect with local sites, events and community members.
“It is great to learn of the all-staff commitment to professional learning/cultural competence development, and also great to learn of the emphasis on critical reflection around “next steps” all the while having shown many strong early successes.” they noted in closing.
Centre Director, Nykita Gibbs, said her team had set out to make connections with the local Indigenous community, emphasising the role relationships have played in making the RAP a success.
“On this journey we discovered an Aboriginal health service Nunkawarrin Yunti” Ms Gibbs said.
“There we met some like-minded people who were starting up a group called ‘Strong Mums Solid Kids’ and through this connection we felt the need to create a safe space for this group of mums to come each week and so…the idea was born.”
Following the meeting, the Elizabeth Vale staff created a playgroup specifically for their Indigenous community, which has been running for just over a year.
“In the beginning we were only offering playgroup each Tuesday during the school terms with about four to six families coming at that stage. Now, we are running the playgroup throughout the entire year on a Tuesday morning, every week.” Ms Gibbs said.
The playgroup, which has grown significantly, works in collaboration with Nunkawarrin Yunti to provide a culturally safe space for access visits for families who are separated from their children. Ms Gibbs noted that “some of the families attending are extremely vulnerable” and the playgroup provides a space which focuses on building strong and positive relationships.
“Families are returning week after week and engaging in wonderful meaningful relationships with their children,” she said.
In response to community need, the centre provides transport to some of the playgroup families, picking them up on the centre bus and dropping them home again after playgroup.
“Not only has this playgroup grown but we now have up to 20-30 families attending each week, some of the families have now booked their children into our centre too for early learning and care.” Ms Gibbs said.