26 January is business as usual for St Kilda & Balaclava preschool
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > For SKBK 26 January is business as usual: Exploring choosing to open on Australia Day

For SKBK 26 January is business as usual: Exploring choosing to open on Australia Day

by Freya Lucas

January 25, 2024

St Kilda & Balaclava Kindergarten (SKBK) has made the decision to keep its early childhood education and care (ECEC) service open on 26 January, as a sign of respect for First Nations children, families and community. 


We spoke with coordinator Tarryn Holland about the decision making process, and the significance of remaining open on 26 January. 


“As a service we have always tried to have a strong focus on learning about First Nations culture and embedding authentic perspectives into our program,” she explained. 


SKBK have worked with the local First Nations community in a variety of ways over the years, one of their team is First Nations, and there are also First Nations families who attend SKBK, lending a very personal air to decision making in this space. 


With the recent Referendum the service was holding many conversations with the children about the significance of the vote, and why SKBK supported a vote of ‘Yes’, and continuing to work on its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), having it published.  

The next step, Ms Holland said, was to consider how SKBK might be better allies for First Nations people, particularly in light of what she termed the disappointing referendum result. Attention soon turned to the question of 26 January and if, or how, this day should be spent. 


“As a team none of us celebrate Australia Day and most of us normally attend Invasion Day rallies on this date,” she explained. 


“We also live in a community that strongly supported the referendum and so we know that the majority of our families hold the same values as we do.” 


Moving on from this realisation, the leadership team discussed the idea of keeping the service open and treating 26 January as “business as usual.” 


The leadership team then went to the whole staff team who warmly embraced the idea. The team followed up with the Union to ensure the decision to remain open was in line with the working conditions and rights of the team. 


The parent run Committee of Management unanimously voted for the change, which was then communicated to the wider parent body, to wide spread positive feedback. 


“So many families mentioned that they were happy that we were continuing our stance as allies to First Nations Australians and making sure that as a Kindergarten we really stand by our values,” Ms Holland said.


“Our Educational Leaders and kindergarten teachers are currently putting together discussion ideas around how we can talk to the children about the day next year. We have a large collection of relevant books and will no doubt use these as a prompt for discussion.” 


For additional perspectives around the complexities of 26 January please see here

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