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Spotlight on Reconciliation

11 January 2020

Charupriya Sisodia, OSHC Coordinator of Gowrie NSW, Gladesville, told Meena Viswanthan, Inclusion Professional, Sydney Metro North Inclusion Hub, about the OSHC service’s reconciliation journey.

Each time I made damper with the children or offered an Aboriginal-type art experience I felt that I needed to reflect more deeply on the core of Indigenous culture. I wanted to have knowledge to share with the team and with the children. I was aware that there are some aspects of Aboriginal culture that could be incorporated into the program, but I also knew there were certain protocols that must be followed. The last thing I wanted to do was to be disrespectful or offend anyone in the process.

I received the Inclusion Agency’s e-Newsletter about Reconciliation Week, and I knew I wanted to have a deeper understanding about what reconciliation is. I reached out to my Inclusion Professional as I knew she would guide me to reliable and valuable resources. It is so important that resources come from an authentic place and have correct, appropriate and legitimate information. Together we started the process of sharing thoughts and ideas. Her enthusiasm fuelled my enthusiasm and instigated my desire to support and help children to learn about reconciliation.

I started discussions with the children by reading about the history of our country. Every afternoon in our Yarnin circle we spoke about friendship, harmony, disrespect, and relations with each other. Some of the provocation questions I asked the children were:

  • Who is an ideal friend?
  • How would you feel if somebody disrespects you?
  • How would you feel if somebody takes something which is rightfully yours?

I then showed the children the poster for Reconciliation Week. We asked ourselves who were the Wallumedegal people and why in our Acknowledgement of Country do we recognise them as the Traditional Custodians of the land? The children had strong ideas of friendship, love, and harmony. It was through these discussions that I led the children to understand what reconciliation means. We must show respect, be kind and include everyone, live peacefully, stay together as friends, and not take things that were never ours. The children were already saying the Acknowledgement of Country but through these discussions the children made a deeper connection. The children started to say we have to respect the elders of the Eora nation and we MUST include ALL our friends when we play.

We also spoke about this year’s National Reconciliation Week Theme ‘In This Together’.

We discussed the poster and supported the children to use their research skills to discover the symbolism of the logo and what the colours stood for: purple is for Australian bushes and berries; yellow reflected the food grain; and brown is the claws and scales of the Australian native animals. The connected dots symbolise that everybody and everything is connected. As one child said, “The dots are all together which means we are all in this together.”

The parents’ response was positive and appreciative of their children’s understanding of Aboriginal culture. We have a family from overseas who comes from a country where they have seen war and the mother said that through her child she learnt about
reconciliation. How powerful is a child’s voice?

The Inclusion Professional encouraged me to visit the Narragunnawali website and look at the resources available. Going forward we want to develop closer links to the community and the Elders. I will continue to work with the Inclusion Professional and celebrate the relationship between us.

Have you developed a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)?

For more information talk with your Inclusion Professional and access the Narragunawali website to learn about Reconciliation Action Plans:

The Australian Government funded NSW/ACT Inclusion Agency is managed by KU Children’s Services, in partnership with Include Me and Gowrie NSW.