Emily’s advocacy demonstrates you’re never too young to drive change
The Sector > Provider > General News > Emily’s advocacy demonstrates you’re never too young to drive change

Emily’s advocacy demonstrates you’re never too young to drive change

by Freya Lucas

December 16, 2022

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals working at Kids’ Uni seek to share their wisdom, advocacy, education, compassion and care with children every day, and recently their message of “you’re never too young to make a difference” was reinforced by one of the children they work with. 


Five-year-old Emily looked out from the playground at Kids’ Uni, towards the flagpoles that man the eastern entrance of the University of Wollongong (UOW) and asked a simple yet powerful question to one of the centre’s educators.


“Where is the Aboriginal flag?”


The flagpoles, situated on the Wollongong Campus, displayed other flags, but Emily was struck by the absence of the Aboriginal flag. Emily then became a powerful advocate for having the situation remedied, which came to a conclusion earlier this week when Emily joined some of her educators and local elder Aunty May, came together to watch as the Aboriginal flag was raised at UOW’s Eastern Entrance.


“We have been looking at the Aboriginal flag, and at Aboriginal culture and history, so that is what sparked Emily’s curiosity and question,” Kid’s Uni director Kellie Grose explained. 


Prior to Emily’s observation the Aboriginal flag had been flown at Woolyungah Indigenous Centre but not on campus. Her wondering encouraged Kid’s Uni educators Nicky Jefferson and Jordan Storm (a proud Yuin woman) to take action on her behalf, reaching out to the Indigenous Strategy Team at the University as a whole, asking for the Aboriginal Flag to be included.


In response, UOW has now installed flagpoles all at the same height – they were previously different heights – that encompass the Aboriginal flag alongside the Australian flag.


Tammy Small, Manager Projects Indigenous Advancement in UOW’s Indigenous Strategy Unit, was ‘blown away’ by Emily’s perceptiveness and knowledge, and her courage to question her educators.


“Our young people are leading the way. We need parents and carers to catch up to ensure the knowledge and capacity to engage in deep and meaningful conversations with our children is happening,” Ms Small said.


“I am so excited about this project and honestly cannot believe it has come about through the voice of a small child. It is so touching to know that she was heard, feels heard and can see change from her voice. This is so empowering for our children.”


Since adopting a Reconciliation Action Plan in 2021, Kids’ Uni has been incorporating First Nations perspectives into the early childhood curriculum across its four centres, with educators inviting local Aboriginal artists, storytellers, elders, and teachers into their centres to be part of their daily activities and to work alongside the children.


“We recognise that we have a responsibility to bring about change for the next generation of Australians that will close the gap for Aboriginal people and increase equity in our community,” Ms Grose said.


The Kids’ Uni curriculum uses the Narragunnawali Reconciliation in Education platform, to incorporate knowledge and First Nations perspectives, and to focus on connecting to and learning from Country.


UOW Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Patricia M. Davidson, was delighted to hear that a young girl had instigated institutional change.


“We often say that change can come from anywhere. And in this case, it came from the innocent and curious eyes of Emily, who saw something that wasn’t right and ensured she spoke up about it. What a powerful lesson to learn at such a young age – that using your voice can make a huge difference to the lives of others,” Professor Davidson said.


“Our commitment to our First Nations staff, students and community is never over, and we need to constantly take a fresh set of eyes to ensure that we are moving forward as a just, equitable, modern university. I am proud of Emily’s achievements, thankful for her curiosity, and hope that continues to campaign for change as she moves through life.”


Pictured: Emily and Aunty May.

Download The Sector's new App!

ECEC news, jobs, events and more anytime, anywhere.

Download App on Apple App Store Button Download App on Google Play Store Button