Unique collaboration between Balnarring Pre-School and Boon Wurrung elder
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Unique collaboration between Balnarring Pre-School and Boon Wurrung elder

by Freya Lucas

April 06, 2023

Balnarring Pre-School has worked with Boon Wurrung elder N’Arwee’t Professor Carolyn Briggs AM to create a third self-published book to honour and celebrate First Peoples culture.


The Time of Chaos was launched on Saturday 25 March at the Womin Djeka Balnarring Ngargee, a community-run family festival that honours and celebrates the culture of First Nations people.


The partnership between Professor Briggs and the children and teachers of Balnarring Pre-School is long standing, and in 2018 she asked the children to illustrate her stories, beginning the publishing partnership. 


In 2019, the Bundjil Creation story was published, followed in 2020 by Barraeemal Story. The Time of Chaos has taken three years to complete given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its subsequent lockdowns and restrictions. 


The book contains images of the children interacting with the story and being with nature, as well as drawings students produced in response to the text.


The text contains Boon Wurrung words with a pictorial dictionary, and while it has been illustrated by young children, the content and relationships with the land provide learning for children and students of all ages and their teachers. 


Speaking with local publication, The Mornington Peninsula News, early childhood teacher  Karen Anderson said there were strong messages in The Time of Chaos story about climate change, the importance of caring for Country and relationships with each other and the land.


Balnarring Pre-School was a joint winner of the 2021 Narragunnawali Award, which recognises outstanding reconciliation initiatives in schools and early learning centres. During their reconciliation journey the teaching team has organised six conferences to provide opportunities for teachers to learn with First Peoples as the teachers.


Ms Anderson hopes that the preschool will inspire other teachers to learn more about First Nations cultures and for them to have the skills and confidence to embed First Nations perspectives into their programs.


She is thankful for the relationship with Professor Briggs, who challenges the pre-school and wider community to view the relationships with First Nations people beyond reconciliation and develop mutual relationships based on reciprocity.


In return, Professor Briggs said the relationship between the preschool and herself is built on four key values: 


  • Learning
  • Showing respect
  • Celebrating life 
  • Honouring sacred ground


“The Balnarring teaching team have learnt and continue to learn to listen deeply,” she said. “It is important to me that the bubups (children) learn about culture, as they are our future.”


Read the original coverage of this story here. 

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