Goodstart Stratton an example of commitment to First Nations team
The Sector > Provider > General News > In honour of NAIDOC Week Goodstart outlines commitment to First Nations team

In honour of NAIDOC Week Goodstart outlines commitment to First Nations team

by Freya Lucas

July 09, 2024

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider Goodstart Early Learning has spoken out about its commitment to increasing the representation of its First Nations employees throughout its organisation. 


Goodstart Stratton has been shared by the provider as “a shining example” of a service achieving First Nations engagement ambitions and creating a strong sense of belonging for First Nations educators, children and families. 


Stratton has five Aboriginal educators and 34 First Nations children enrolled and is led by First Nations woman Corrine Ferraro, who has held her role for five years. 


“I’ve been with Goodstart and at Stratton since 2016,” Ms Ferraro shared. 


“I started as an Assistant Director on a fixed-term contract, after which I worked as a Senior Educator. Later, I stepped back up as Assistant Director and then to Centre Director five years ago. It’s been a whirlwind.”


“I have always had a passion for embedding culture throughout my work in ECEC. When I stepped up as centre director, mine and the centre’s journey were able to authentically begin. I’ve been on that cultural journey alongside Goodstart with their organisational Stretch RAP [Reconciliation Action Plan]. And then last year, I was given the opportunity to pilot a state-based cultural liaison role. Currently, I’m centre director two days a week and WA’s Cultural Liaison two days a week.”


As a cultural liaison her role complements the work done by Goodstart at a National level, where National Cultural Liaison Melody Ingra and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Liaison Cultural Liaison Peter Pilot-Wakaisu work to ensure Goodstart is a culturally safe and welcoming place for its employees and the First Nations children and families in its care. 


Ms Ferraro hopes that a role similar to hers will exist in every state and territory where Goodstart operates. 


As Cultural Liaison for WA, she supports the Goodstart network with cultural consultation which can include developing RAPs, helping with cultural perspectives, and ‘where to find things.’


In 2014, Goodstart was one of the first early learning providers to develop an Innovate RAP, which was ‘reinvigorated’ in 2020 with the launch of a second and expanded RAP. 


Goodstart’s 2024 – 2027 Stretch RAP has been conditionally endorsed by Reconciliation Australia and will be launched later this year.


All 654 Goodstart centres across Australia have drafted or published their commitment to reconciliation in a centre-based RAP on the Reconciliation Australia’s Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Education platform.


Each centre RAP documents actions to strengthen relationships, respect and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their community. 


“Goodstart Stratton has had its centre-based RAP in place since 2020,” Ms Ferraro said, “but we were always working towards that prior. I feel Goodstart is leading the way in the early learning space. I’ve never had a RAP anywhere else that I worked. We did cultural things, but we didn’t have it on the Narragunnawali platform.”


Some of the changes the RAP has influenced at service level include: 


  • The physical environment
  • A cultural calendar
  • Everyday practice. 


“I start with the visual, so having accessible artwork, story, books, and resources,” Ms Ferraro said.


“Our Acknowledgement of Country in the Noongar language is displayed out the front of the centre. That is very important, to start there, visible from the outside. It conveys that we are culturally safe for First Nations people to come in. We’ve also had positive feedback on our reconciliation T-shirts and the use of our language in-centre.”


“We use the Noongar language. You can spell it multiple different ways, and all are correct. Aboriginal culture was never intended to be a written language, so to translate it into English doesn’t always make sense. If we have other language groups in-centre, we incorporate them.”


“We also have good connections with the families. We’re quite open and honest with them. So, word of mouth in the community has got us to where we are. When I started, we had small numbers of Aboriginal children and families in-centre and now we are the highest in WA. We’ve got 34 First Nations children at our centre, which is huge.”


To learn more about the First Nations career pathways available with Goodstart please see here or email [email protected] 

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