Big Fat Smile launches Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan to boost cultural safety
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider Big Fat Smile has continued its long legacy of advocacy with the recent launch of its Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) . This story recently appeared on the Big Fat Smile blog. Access the original story here.
“Enriching the lives and minds of children and their families in their communities is the foundation of who we are at Big Fat Smile and the launch of our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan is critical for ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children have access to culturally safe learning spaces,” a spokesperson said.
Launched at its Koonawarra Community Preschool, the RAP provides a formal commitment and plan of action to foster environments that are accessible, safe, and inclusive for First Nations Peoples.
Big Fat Smile’s journey toward reconciliation in a formal way has been two years in the making, commencing with the appointment of a Reconciliation Coordinator tasked with guiding and supporting the organisation through its Reconciliation journey.
The creation of a RAP Working Group and RAP Key Advisory Group enabled key stakeholders and champions across all parts of the organisation to shape and drive the development of the RAP. Throughout the process, the organisation engaged in consultation with Community, partnering with Aboriginal groups and advisors. With the support of the Executive Leadership Team and Board Big Fat Smile developed and embedded an informed approach to the Reflect RAP that is embraced by educators and staff across all areas of the organisation.
”I am proud to officially mark this significant occasion, the start of Big Fat Smile’s formal commitment towards reconciliation with our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan, endorsed by Reconciliation Australia,” Big Fat Smile CEO Kim Bertino said at the launch.
“We concentrated our focus on the areas of greatest importance and now we embed our commitment to strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, for the benefit of all Australians, but especially for the children, our youngest citizens.“
Reconciliation & Practice Coordinator and Chair of the RAP Working Group, Nicholas Lewis, added that launching the RAP is important to the Dharawal (Illawarra), Dharug (Sydney), Gundungurra (Southern Highlands), Ngunnawal (Goulburn & Canberra), and Yuin (South Coast) communities where Big Fat Smile provides its services.
“Providing culturally safe spaces built through consultation with Community, capacity building of staff, and reflective discussions are critical for an authentic Reconciliation journey for the empowerment of both First Nations and non-Indigenous people,” they added.
For Koonawarra Community Preschool co-director Sharon Collier,Reconciliation is important in fostering unity and respect among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people of Australia.
“It’s about valuing justice and equity for all Australians while respecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage,” she explained.
The artwork for the RAP is titled Ngurra (camp meaning safe space or place of belonging) was created by Dharug man Kane Wright (Director of Deadly Ed) whilst living and working on Dharawal Country during his work with Big Fat Smile services.
Later in 2023, the provider plans to work on an Innovate RAP which will look at ways Big Fat Smile can Innovate within the ECEC sector and lead the way for First Nations Peoples.
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