At Balnarring Preschool we acknowledge that we learn and live on Boon Wurrung Country. In the entrance a large WOMIN DJEKA sign, made by children and families welcomes everyone. We acknowledge and celebrate First Peoples perspectives and culture within all our values, beliefs and practices. The children acknowledge the land and people through songs they have written.
A written acknowledgement is displayed on the front door, and is included in all correspondence and the ATSI flags fly.
The pre-school’s Acknowledgment to Country has been regularly reviewed in response to deeper understanding and as our knowledge has developed.. At the commencement of each year the families are invited to a Welcome to Country ceremony as we welcome them to the Pre-school and Elders welcome us to Boon Wurrung Country. Each committee meeting, one member is asked to share their own acknowledgment. These personal acknowledgments represent what they have learnt since their child and them have become part of the program.
Balnarring Pre-school believes it is our responsibility to develop relationships with: staff, children, families, the community, First Peoples and environment and that this learning should be explicit for all children and their families, both non-indigenous and indigenous. Regular conversations with Boon Wurrung Elders guide practices, we speak and sing Boon Wurrung language and intentionally share First Peoples history, ways of knowing and doing. Links between First Peoples perspectives, sustainable practices and respectful relationships with each other and Land are now strong throughout all our philosophy, practices and pedagogy.
Balnarring preschool believes it is important for all children to learn about the oldest living culture in the world, whether Aboriginal families were/are enrolled. We have come to know the importance of embedding First Peoples perspectives into an early childhood program for all children – both non-indigenous and indigenous. We also believe it is vital that all early childhood services create environments that welcome their local First Peoples children and families.
We hope that by making First Peoples cultures visible we become a centre of choice for indigenous families, we are supporting better outcomes for all children in our community.
Our Preschool, teaching team, families, children and community have been on this learning journey for seven years. Embedding First Peoples perspectives and Learning with Country explicitly impact the beliefs, values and practices of each member of teaching teams. First Peoples perspectives and Learning and living with nature is prioritized within our Quality Improvement Plan (QIP). Our philosophy and professional learning opportunities, QIP, and Reconciliation Plan, supports our community to develop respect for the history and perspectives of First Peoples, joint learning experiences, sustainable practices and fosters intergenerational learning. We believe learning with First Peoples perspectives within the Preschool is supporting our children to be teachers, they are facilitating learning for all members of their family and their community.
The teaching team incorporate aspects of First Peoples culture into daily program plans. The children experience culture and language every day, including learning on Country at least once a week at Balnarring beach and bush.
The children are often involved in story telling using items from nature they collect during their play.
We plan for and regularly invite First Peoples to share their stories and knowledge. Learning opportunities and experiences (stories, songs, symbols, artwork, dance) are supported by local Indigenous Artists and First Peoples educational consultants and community members.
For the past four years we have worked with Boon Wurrung Elders – N’Arweet Carolyn Briggs and Fay Stewart- Muir. They have shared culture and language with the teaching team, children and families. Engaging with the Boon Wurrung Elders has supported many learning opportunities for everyone
We make culture visible in everyday practices in an authentic way by including the following; puzzles designed and made by First Peoples, songs that include First Peoples learning and at times use Boon Wurrung Language, stories, artwork, symbols, games, mats and a fire pit that is used to ‘yarn’ around and cook on.
Learning with First Peoples and walking on Country celebrates new relationships, and identities, creates opportunities, develops respect for the First Peoples and establishes a deeper understanding of our history.
In 2017 our learning about First Peoples cultures evolved into writing a Reconciliation Plan and service policy that provides guidance for all who are part of the service.