We all know the importance of Indigenous culture in the program. We all know about NAIDOC week but this is about more than that. This post is exploring ways to embed the culture into the service, so it is meaningful and not just a tokenistic approach and more than just dot painting…
Understand the history of the land your service is on – In order to be able to discuss the Indigenous heritage of Australia you need to understand it. Preferably through a discussion or if you are lucky, relationship, with a local Indigenous person, however any information you can have will help you out. Broaden your knowledge and understanding. It is also important to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, but not just on the signature on a email, but in a way that makes sense and helps educate families, children and educators.
Reflect the culture through resources – Have resources around the service that reflect the Indigenous culture and are a starting point to discuss different aspects of the culture with the children. Examples includes dreamtime stories, artwork, flag etc. Make sure the resources are reflective of the local culture and understand that some have specific cultural restrictions linked to them such as gender roles.
Start to use key words in your routine – When sitting in a circle and having a conversation the Aboriginal term is yarning, or having a yarn. So why not call circle time yarning time? When you go exploring the local bushland you could go “walkabout”. You can explain the reason behind it it to the children and they can understand the importance of it.
Bring in an expert – If you would like the children to know more about the Indigenous culture then why not bring in an expert. There are many different ways you can do this, whether through a child focused inservice, an Aboriginal support agency, Consultant, or even a local member of the Aboriginal community. Remember building a relationship can take time and you need to be respectful and sincere in your approach, not desperate to tick a box.
Explore why you want to include Indigenous Culture – Reflect on why it is important to you and your service. If it is to tick a box, or because you feel you have too, then it is likely to be approached in a tokenistic way such as dot painting over NAIDOC week. If you would like to include Indigenous culture because you understand the importance of children learning about the heritage of their country and those who cared for the land and sustained the environment for thousands of years, then you will naturally lean towards more meaningful ways.
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