Goodstart Early Learning Thornton shares Reconciliation journey
Goodstart Early Learning Thornton has been on a three-year journey of Reconciliation. In the piece below educator and assistant director Cindy shares her experiences of the period of self-reflection and the deep dive undertaken by the service into cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and community members.
Cindy began the journey to lead the Thornton team through this process in 2018, with the creation of a community of practice, joining Melody Ingra and Simone Miller.
When the team first began their learning, the Narragunnawali platform was “unheard of within the centre, let alone used for its valuable resources and guidance,” Cindy said, however it quickly became an invaluable part of the work being undertaken.
Once the team formed a working group, the reconciliation action plan began its journey with the minimal 14 actions. Over the years, Cindy said, the ideas “came flooding out” and the centre was soon complimented on how ‘safe’ it felt to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors.
The centre began to explore ways to respect the culture of First Nations peoples and ways to practice unity. One of the first steps was the introduction of a personalised Acknowledgement of Country, after which Cindy said the children “soon realised their sense of community and the desire to share and have a yarn”.
To foster community connections, the service worked to include Aboriginal students from Maitland High School, to form a connection with Speaking in Colour – a Newcastle based organisation and joining a KU yarnin’ circle.
Community grants were used to engage with local dance groups and artists to spend time with the children as they explored new creative ways of being, culminating in the creation of the service’s first Reconciliation Action Plan in March 2020, published on the Narragunnawali platform.
“This did not stop us and pushed us forward into new actions and deliverables,” Cindy said, outlining how she was one of three recipients of a scholarship for the Koori Curriculum with Jessica Staines.
The scholarship will enable Cindy to access “some of the most valuable resources and information for Early Childhood educators wishing to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and perspectives and elevate the centre to new exciting levels.”
The Reconciliation Action Plan has just been sent in for its second review, with the team “excited to be able to add new actions and deliverables and take on our next part of the journey as we widen and strengthen our community connections.”
“Now that COVID restrictions are easing we are looking forward to excursions to visit local Wonnarua Country, events and celebrations and representing Goodstart Early Learning,” Cindy said in closing.
For more information on embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in ECEC settings, please see here.