Toukley Preschoolers host other young learners
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Toukley preschoolers host other little learners for vibrant NAIDOC celebrations

Toukley preschoolers host other little learners for vibrant NAIDOC celebrations

by Freya Lucas

July 08, 2024

Preschoolers from Toukley Public School’s on-site Kooloora Preschool joined their older peers in hosting other young learners from the New South Wales Central Coast for NAIDOC Week celebrations. 


The whole school event on 2 July started with respected Aboriginal community member Matt Sonter performing a smoking ceremony to cleanse the path from the preschool to the school, where preschoolers joined the whole school assembly.


The assembly included a performance by the girls’ cultural dance group, before preschoolers and school students were given the opportunity to move between a variety of activities including: 


  • Trying foods with traditional ingredients such as lemon myrtle, saltbush, kangaroo and emu
  • Engaging with a Gorokan High student playing the didgeridoo and sharing Dreaming stories
  • Contributing to a sea of hands, symbolising unity and reconciliation
  • Using ochre
  • Participating in traditional games organised by Sports in Schools Australia (SiSA) and from the Australian Sports Commission’s Yulunga Indigenous games resource
  • Art-making


Local Aboriginal and community services also ran stalls, with representatives from Yerin Aboriginal Health Services, Barang Regional Alliance, Toukley Neighbourhood Centre, Uniting’s Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters program, as well as the school P&C.


Kooloora Preschool was established in 1996 and is one of 11 NSW Department of Education preschools designated especially for Aboriginal children. While enrolments are open to all families in the community the preschool prioritises enrolments from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander families.


Kamilaroi woman Sharon Buck is the preschool’s assistant principal and spoke about the importance of NAIDOC Week for the whole school community, which has the distinction of having the highest primary school enrolment of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children in the Tuggerah network, with a total of 169 students out of 530 identifying as Aboriginal.


Kooloora Preschool has 17 of the 37 children enrolled who identify as being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.


“NAIDOC Week is a time to reflect and celebrate the history, culture and achievements of First Nations peoples – recognising them as the traditional owners of the land,” Ms Buck said.


“We want our children to be proud of their culture and to see themselves reflected in our school environment and events – and we also want our non-Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children to have a rich understanding of Aboriginal culture.”


Children from three other local early childhood services (Toukley Preschool, Play to Learn Early Learning Centre and Little Coast Kids) visited the preschool on 3 July for special NAIDOC celebrations. 


Ms Buck said Kooloora Preschool and Toukley Public School had partnered with Gorokan Public School and Gorokan High School to develop a localised Aboriginal curriculum.


“This means we ensure that the curriculum we are delivering is localised to our specific context,” she said.


“So we might not talk about the desert, we talk about what is local to us. We take children on Country to the beach to see the shell middens or to Mount Yango, a significant site, or to the rock carvings at Bulgandry, at Kariong, so they learn what is sacred to the Darkinjung people in our area.”


“This has involved significant community consultation led by Elder Uncle Dave Ella, and in consultation with Muru Bulbi AECG.”


“We have yarn ups for families, children and community both on and off site and have provided the opportunity for staff, families and children to learn on Country.”


“The school is committed to ensuring a successful transition for all local children attending early childhood education and care services into our school,” Ms Buck said.


“We do this by including other services to join as many school-based activities that our public preschool attends as possible. We aim to support others and showcase our practice.”


To access the original coverage of this story please see here. Image shows Armanii Dargan, Isla Clark, Alfie Grant and Rafael Gleave who all had their faces painted for the occasion.

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