I am really excited about NAIDOC this year. I am looking forward to getting to some events, catching up with mob and celebrating the hard work that our communities are doing. Once again, the National NAIDOC Committee have chosen a theme that I think perfectly reflects where Australia is at with its education journey.
As we are working with schools and organisations, we are seeing a greater readiness to listen to First Nations knowledge holders; more capacity to be open to truth telling; and more respect for the stories of the people who have been leading change. There’s a willingness to amplifying our voices to advance the work our communities have started.
This year’s theme Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! provides an opportunity for everyone to feel involved, regardless of where they are at with their personal Aboriginal education journey. We saw schools and organisations of all types be brave and embrace change during Reconciliation Week and many are keen to continue that work this NAIDOC.
Our school NAIDOC resources are on the platform now and Wingaru Kids ask schools to:
Our annual Challenge asks schools to invest time in exploring the NAIDOC theme throughout term 3. Last year over 1000 teachers signed up to the Challenge and feedback was amazing with so many teachers finding new approaches, resources, supports and inspiration.
This year the Challenge includes learning about the year’s theme as well as exploring the stories of some amazing high-profile change makers. We also have a research task to explore your local community to identify local change makers – every Aboriginal community has people doing great work for change who deserve to be recognised. We also have a project so that students can amplify change by sharing what they have learned with their school community.
Based on feedback from last year, we have two ways of participating this year – choose your own adventure by using our free planners to create your own path or if you would prefer, use our full scope and sequence. We have put together a collection of resources to support you including lesson plans, research templates, project ideas, videos and a stack of printable classroom resources – worksheets, classroom décor and more. The Challenge Packs include digital resources as well as a gorgeous set of resources that is posted to you.
You can purchase one of our Challenge Packs here.
Wingaru Kids subscribers will find all of the digital resources on their dashboards under the NAIDOC category. Don’t forget to check out the additional resources for bunting, event invitations and other materials to support you.
Regardless of whether you choose your own Challenge adventure or follow our complete plans, you will have the support of our amazing Challenge Team who are ready to share so much knowledge, information, advice and support. Make sure you are following them on social media so you don’t miss their contributions. This year we have articles, Instagram lives and shares that you do not want to miss!
Meet the Challenge Team
Join us now!
Sign up for the Challenge Newsletter to receive more information as the Challenge progresses.
Follow the Challenge Team to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
Reconciliation Week is just around the corner! It is a great time to engage your school in discussions about Aboriginal perspectives and your school’s approach towards them. Because it is Reconciliation Week, people tend to make more time to consider how they can play a part in working towards reconciliation. People are more open to activities that increase engagement and understanding of Aboriginal people, cultures and histories than they are at other times of the year when other priorities are often the focus.
This year’s theme is Be Brave. Make Change. It encourages us all to reflect on our practice and look at the changes we can make. Change is one of those funny things that we want because it opens up opportunities and can make us feel energised and motivated but at the same time, change can feel challenging as it forces us out of our comfort zones. I love that this year’s theme acknowledges that change isn’t always easy and that sometimes we need to be brave and step out of our comfort zone so we can experience the benefits of change.
This year I encourage you to consider change within your school that can support increased awareness and understanding of Aboriginal people and the issues that our communities are faced with. We all have different appetites for change and when trying to make change within a school, navigating the varying attitudes towards change is part of the challenge. Changing how people think about Aboriginal education is not an easy task but it is an important one. Making change at a pace that everyone is comfortable with is not easy but a gentle approach, in my experience, does work for most environments even if it is a little slower than many of us would like. With this in mind, here are 5 simple actions that you can take to encourage a long-term change in approach towards Aboriginal education at your school.
When I started Wingaru Education I did so with teacher support in mind. The tools we have are designed to make it easier for teachers to include Aboriginal content and reduce workloads by bringing resources and know-how together. Over the years we can see we have helped. So have many edu-techs who are providing quality digital resources that support teachers with content, systems and tools all designed to make life easier and, importantly, save time. However, it is also very clear that busy workloads mean that many teachers do not have the time to utilise these tools because digital resources come with an admin workload. They require initial set up, annual roll over, and ongoing management of teacher and student accounts. Anyone who’s tried logging 25 six-years-olds into devices at the same time knows it’s not for the faint hearted.
Digital tools are an important part of today’s classrooms. We all have our favourites – Wingaru Kids, Mathletics, Essential Assessment, Typing Tournament, Reading Eggs, Google Classroom, just to name a few – whatever your chosen resources, digital tools are an everyday part of learning. They support teachers to cater to a diverse range of learning styles; offer an extensive array of content otherwise not accessible; make transitioning between school and home learning easier; share knowledge in a way that makes knowledge more accessible than ever; and support students to develop important ICT skills, just to name a few benefits. But the reality is the workload associated with digital tools means some teachers miss out on the benefits.
Every school is different in its approach to digital tool management – some schools have dedicated teachers coordinating digital resources and others have multiple teachers each taking responsibility for a resource. Regardless of the approach the time dedicated is significant. Across the board, the amount of time spent by schools on administrative tasks is considered to be a burden and these necessary tasks are having a negative impact on education as teachers are stretched between increasing admin and teaching time.
The increasing workload of teachers and how we can help is a constant conversation at Wingaru. Teachers tell us they don’t have time to set up digital tools; they tell us that they don’t have time to facilitate access to the many quality resources available for their class – the coordination of passwords and logging in just takes too long; and they tell us they'd rather not spend their lunchtime typing in each child's login (and similar workarounds) just to have enough time to teach the computer-based lesson.
School administrators tell us they struggle with keeping track of subscriptions; managing set up demands and overseeing accounts; and each year, as staffing changes occur, they spend a considerable amount of time tracking down resources and making sure access is not disrupted.
What if I told you we can help with all of those barriers to digital tool use? That we can manage and coordinate all of your resources – from class set up to facilitating whole class logins so they take just a few minutes. That we can completely remove the need for teachers to print, cut and photocopy login credentials for all of their chosen tools. That we can offer the magic of automatic logins via a secure one-stop portal. That we can help teachers and students get more out of the resources they have access to by creating more time to use them?
Most students have access to 3-6 digital learning tools. Each one requiring management by classroom teachers. ClassHive provides the tools to manage all of these from one web-based portal. No more lost student login credentials – ClassHive provides a single access point for as many resources as you choose. Logging in the whole class to any resource takes just minutes. Teachers are also able to keep all of their digital teaching tools together with simple access via their ClassHive dashboard.
By accessing their resources via ClassHive kids will no longer need to manage multiple login details or websites – all their online resources are accessed via the ClassHive app. The App is available from the Apple Store or Google Play with desktop access facilitated by a plugin.
Students log in to ClassHive with a simple QR code and from their dashboard have instant access to all their favourite learning tools with our automatic login feature.
ClassHive does not modify the learning experience in any way – it simply provides streamlined access so students can start learning faster. Students will use the same resources that have been carefully selected by their teacher.
By bringing all their digital tools together, schools can reduce the time spent managing accounts. Beyond having everything in one place, the ClassHive optional concierge services mean we do all the work for the annual rollover of your accounts, removing this workload from teachers and other school staff.
“Educating our children with the truth is the way toward healing this great country”
Helen Moran, Stolen Generations member
Reconciliation is a big word that echoes louder and louder as time pounds ever forward. It means different things to different people. To some, it is a token gesture, a week in the year in which a word is repeated to tick political boxes. To others, it is a future path to a sense of national unity in Australia, with the aim that:
“In a just and reconciled Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will have the same life chances and choices as non-Indigenous children, and the length and quality of a person’s life will not be determined by their racial background”.
The aching chasm between two understandings of this powerful word, alongside countless other interpretations, goes to the very heart of the issue of reconciliation, and why it is still not resolved in Australia. The untold, untaught story of First Nations people, the blinkered teaching of single-dimension colonial history, and the disregard of intergenerational inequality and injustice to this day, leaves sections of the nation holding a vast burden of trauma while others live with this historical blind spot.
Education plays a vital role in creating a shared understanding about Australian history and the ensuing trauma. A shared understanding can support First Nations people to have the same life chances and choices as non-Aboriginal people. As teachers, your role in sharing truth can feel confronting, however placing Aboriginal perspectives in the too-hard basket only compounds the problem.
While the stories of massacres, the Stolen Generation and terra nullius can seem too hard to tell, many argue that if the trauma of the past is silenced, the success of the future will never be placed in context. Add to that the stories that need to be celebrated, stories of courage, innovation and triumph, and you can start to see that the understanding of our national identity is currently incomplete, dishonest and an ongoing legacy of colonial cruelty.
The key to real long-term sustainable change is fostering genuine engagement in Aboriginal perspectives for all Australians so that we, as a country, have a shared knowledge of our history, the journey that has brought First Nations people to where we are today and the challenges we continue to face.
That engagement happens effectively in the classroom, making school an ideal place to share knowledge and stories that foster a shared understanding.
As key influencers in the lives of children, teachers are well placed to take on this responsibility. Teachers can educate younger generations about Australia’s fractured history, to instil in them understanding and a desire to learn more about the oldest continuous living culture on earth.
School kids are the future drivers of reconciliation, respect and understanding. And it is through them that the healing process can be best realised, as well as encouraging a sense of cultural identity and pride among First Nations children, enhancing their psychological resilience.
But while the case for education to support reconciliation is clear, knowing where to start is something that many teachers ponder. Making a start is the hardest step. This year’s Reconciliation Week theme is Be Brave. Make Change. So I encourage you to be brave and try something new in your classroom this year for Reconciliation Week.
Here are 5 accessible ideas that contribute to reconciliation.
Join in Reconciliation Week activities
Throughout Reconciliation Week there are many activities that are worth exploring. Look for local events as well as online initiatives. The conversations are interesting and will support your own learning about Reconciliation and the work being done around the nation as well as give you ideas about things you can talk about in the classroom. You will also meet people who share an interest in reconciliation, truth telling and Aboriginal culture and histories and these connections can help further your understanding as well as help connect to your local community.
Participate in All Together Now
All Together Now for Reconciliation is an initiative created by Wingaru Education and Reconciliation NSW. It provides easy and accessible content about reconciliation through complete lessons that explore the annual NSW Reconciliation Week theme. The resources are launched mid-May and are free to access. Keep an eye on Wingaru and Reconciliation NSW social media for further information.
Engage your whole school in the conversation
As with any education, knowledge is key. Share knowledge with your whole school community and get them engaged in the conversation. Host events in Reconciliation Week that parents can participate in and have students share their views on reconciliation and develop ideas on how your school can play a part. You will find lots of ideas about Reconciliation week on the Reconciliation Australia website https://www.reconciliation.org.au/our-work/national-reconciliation-week/.
Commit to including more Aboriginal content in your classroom
Education plays a vital role in creating a shared understanding about Australian history and the ensuing trauma that plagues Aboriginal communities. Sharing Aboriginal content is key to supporting your students to appreciate why reconciliation is needed but also develop ways of working that take them forward in life to contribute to reconciliation – that is an Australia that truly makes space for First Nations people to have the same life chances and choices as the rest of society.
Choose Aboriginal-led resources
This not only ensures you are considering true First Nations perspectives but that you are also showcasing Aboriginal strengths and successes – an important activity in overcoming stereotypes! Wingaru Kids and Bubs have a plethora of content to explore. Books by First Nations authors are readily available and perfect for kids to explore new concepts (check out https://www.rileycallieresources.com.au/ for a great range of titles). Display Aboriginal art around the school and take the time to consider these artworks in your discussions.
Whatever steps you choose, be brave!
 Reconciliation Australia
April 22 is Earth Day, a day when people all over the world focus on caring for the earth and protecting the planet from things like pollution and deforestation. The day brings focus to the environmental challenges our world is facing and raises awareness not only of the problem but also the things we can all do to help make a healthier planet.
Humans have overdeveloped the land, overfished the oceans, polluted the waterways and destroyed the forests. Each year, it is estimated that over 10,000 species become extinct – the actual number is likely much higher.
Earth Day encourages us all to become more mindful of the planet. It asks us to:
This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest in Our Planet”. It is asking people to identify and implement ways of working that are better for the planet and its future.
For First Nations people, caring for Country is part of our everyday lives. It is at the core of our culture. Traditionally our lifestyle and cultural practices revolved around looking after Country and ensuring that each of her elements was protected, healthy and respected.
For millennia, Aboriginal people have operated with sustainability at the core of lifestyle practices. For example, we made sure we left enough vegetation for other animals to eat; we practiced techniques, such as fire-stick farming, to encourage plants and food sources to be plentiful; we hunted only enough food to feed the mob, ensuring every part of the animal was used so nothing was wasted; we collected foods like eggs mindfully, only taking about a third of what was available so there was still enough for other predators and enough to hatch to ensure continuation of the species.
Slowly our ways of working are being recognised and adopted to help care for Country. Fire services are working with Traditional Owners to implement cultural burning methods to help manage the threat from bushfires; First Nations rangers work in National Parks to control weeds and support native species; community groups are volunteering their time to revitalise Country; and mob are sharing their cultural knowledge to support non-Aboriginal organisations to care for Country effectively.
This Earth Day I encourage you to consider First Nations knowledge in your discussions about looking after the planet. We have a number of lessons on the platform that can help –
We can all learn from the lessons that generations of First Nations people lived by. These are some ideas to consider this Earth Day, and beyond:
Your class could mark Earth Day by investigating First Nations groups who are caring for Country in your area or share a Dreaming story that contains knowledge about sustainability. But don’t stop there! We need to care for our planet every day and we have the oldest continuous living culture in the world right here to learn from!
It’s still a few weeks away but Easter craft is starting to pop up - it wouldn’t be Easter without Easter craft! We have more amazing basket craft activities this year. They are so gorgeous that I couldn’t wait to share! I have included one below and the other is available to Wingaru Kids subscribers in the Additional Resources section of the platform.
The artwork on this year’s basket is a piece called “A Pathway Through Diversity” by Dunghutti artist Aunty Cynthia Younie, or as I know her Aunty Cindy. Aunty Cindy is one of those Elders who is so generous with her time, her art, her story and her knowledge. I am lucky enough to have had her in my life for too many years to count and I know that I don’t express my appreciation for her support, guidance and knowledge enough.
If you have been following Wingaru for a while you may remember when Aunty Cindy shared some of her story to mark the anniversary of the apology a few years back: https://www.wingaru.com.au/blog/what-the-national-apology-meant-to-me.
Like every First Nations artist, Aunty Cindy brings her story to every artwork she creates. “A Pathway Through Diversity” is about individual strengths, building teams and resilience of people coming together. It is inspired by her community and their journey as they were faced first with drought, then the devastating bushfires of 2019/2020, then covid and floods.
Engaging in an activity like creating an Easter basket, is a good opportunity to have a yarn with students about Aboriginal art. It provides an opportunity to talk about how to respectfully engage with Aboriginal art and the stories it tells. This conversation will vary depending on the age of your students and the experience they have with Aboriginal art.
You might like to yarn about:
If making Easter baskets is not your thing, check out our other Easter resources (Wingaru Egg Basket - Chloe Webb, Wingaru Easter Egg Puzzle, Word Find Bush Tucker Foods - Eggs, Memory Game Bush Tucker Foods - Eggs, Look and Find Bush Tucker Foods - Eggs) where we focus on eggs and their role as bush tucker. If you are a subscriber, you will find our full collection of Easter resources in the Additional Resources section of the platform.
Teachers are educating for life. Simple conversations from a young age can support a growing understanding of what constitutes unacceptable art appropriation. There is so much to think about and discuss, turning a simple craft session into a meaningful inclusion of First Nations content.
The beginning of Term 1 is a busy time here at Wingaru as we set up all of our classes and touch base with the teachers leading Aboriginal education at their school. It is “all hands on deck” as we get everyone up and running as quickly as possible. This year, the pacing felt a little different as schools juggled the complexities of Covid along with everything else this time of year throws at them but by week 3 we were in the swing of one of our busiest times of the year and I LOVE it!
I love it because it is a time when we connect with so many of our teachers. We hear what they have been up to and how the school is doing with Aboriginal education. We get to celebrate the wins and help develop approaches to support schools looking to improve their approaches. Yep – I love a yarn! Not really that surprising, right?
Aboriginal ways of being and doing rely on connection so it is not surprising that these connections are a big part of how we operate. It is what makes my job so awesome and one of the things that many teachers say is the best thing about their job – connecting with students.
I have been thinking a lot about the power of a yarn lately and the role it has in Aboriginal education. For many people who are learning about Aboriginal people, culture and histories, it is the first time they are hearing truth. For centuries, truth has not been the focus of the narrative and now that it is, people need to process it and yarning is a great tool to support this. A good yarn shares ideas, points of view, and experience. A good yarn is engaging and gives people the opportunity to explore concepts, to challenge ideas and to resolve uncertainty about their thoughts.
Yarning and sharing stories has always played a key role in sharing Aboriginal knowledge so it isn’t a surprise that it remains a powerful education tool today. Yarning shares stories and stories are conduits for connection and connection can support people to see things from a different perspective.
This is why I encourage teachers to introduce a yarning circle in their classroom. While having a yarn can, and does, happen organically in classrooms every day, a yarning circle can help to engage students and encourage openness, trust and respect.
Yarning circles can: enhance students understanding of First Nations knowledge and ways of working; enrich the learning experiences for both students and teachers; provide a safe place to be heard and to respond to students; and build a connectedness within a school community.
If you haven’t hosted a yarning circle in your class yet, I really encourage you to give it a go. This is a tool that is accessible to everyone, doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t require any special equipment.
5 Tips for a Successful Yarning Circle
Set some expectations: Yarning circles are a safe space where everyone should feel comfortable to contribute. This means everyone needs to be respectful. Setting expectations around listening, using respectful language and not judging other students’ contributions, can help ensure your yarning circle is a positive space.
Provide focus questions: Kids like to have a yarn and the stories they share can fast take you off track. Introduce focus questions so that everyone knows what the focus of the discussion is and have some follow-up questions prepared to keep them on track.
Encourage sharing of ideas: encourages students to take turns to talk and to promote reciprocal sharing and learning. Give all students the opportunity to contribute but don’t force them – the experience will be better for everyone if students are given time to be comfortable with sharing and offering contributions openly rather than because they are pushed.
Make time for reflection: As a group, reflect on the conversation. Resolve any actions or issues identified by the yarning circle, or agree to follow up in future yarning circles.
The start of the school year is always a busy time. It is filled with ‘new’ – new classes, new students, new relationships, new approaches. Flurries of activity aimed at settling students into routines and practices that support learning, growth and confidence. It is a well- practiced juggle for teachers who quickly make strategic decisions to benefit their students as they deliver a wealth of knowledge and opportunities to explore new thoughts, approaches and skills.
Delivering Aboriginal perspectives is one of the many things that teachers need to consider. The what, when and how of including First Nations content are different for every class teacher. Getting it right can feel daunting but the most important thing is to start. Starting is the beginning of finding a groove that works for you and your students.
Here are my top 5 tips for getting started.
1. Acknowledge Country
Acknowledging Country is a great place to start. It supports students to recognise the Traditional Owners of the area and can start a conversation about why recognition is important and how we can all show respect and work with local Aboriginal communities.
Your class might like to develop their own acknowledgement – this can be a great discussion among peers as they work together to create a genuine and heartfelt recognition of First Nations people and their connection to the land we all live on.
Displaying an acknowledgement and including it as part of your morning routine is a strong way to start the day, setting a tone of respect.
2. Represent First Nations in your classroom
Including visual representations of First Nations people in your classroom is an easy way to make our culture and stories part of your every day and can act as conversation starters with students. Look for artwork, posters, information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander role models. First Nations calendars and classroom décor packs (like the ones included with your Wingaru Kids subscription) can be a great addition to any room. See the Additional Resources section of your Dashboard.
3. Plan for inclusions
Planning when you are including your Aboriginal content can ensure it doesn’t get lost or bumped when things get busy. What’s that saying? – failing to plan is planning to fail. Include your ideas and resources in your planning documents so they are easy to access and implement. Be realistic in your planning – better to plan and achieve one or two inclusions that plan for a lot and achieve none. You can always revise your plans and add more as you are ready.
4. Have Quality Resources Ready
Having resources ready can make including First Nations content easier. Choose resources that are Aboriginal-led and if you are buying resources buy from First Nations sellers as these purchases support Aboriginal people and communities. Aboriginal business are more likely to employ Aboriginal staff as well as support community initiatives. Choosing Aboriginal-led resources ensures that your content has a true First Nations voice, not the perspective that a non-Aboriginal person thinks is correct. To check if a resource is Aboriginal-led look to see if the organisation is led by Aboriginal people and if you can’t identify the person or where they are from don’t be afraid to politely ask.
5. Professional Learning
Aboriginal education can be confronting but as you develop confidence and knowledge it will get easier. Seek out professional learning opportunities that support you as you develop your practice in this area. There are some great courses that have been developed by Aboriginal educators (like these Wingaru ones). Also, if you use social media, follow Aboriginal educators who are sharing their knowledge, ideas and resources. Many will also share opportunities like free webinars and events. Another place to expand your knowledge is at local Aboriginal events. Go along and get to know your local Aboriginal community. It’s amazing how insightful a yarn can be and the knowledge you can take away.
It’s the great debate we have every year – should we be celebrating our great country on the day that began the destruction of our First Nations cultures? Is a day of mourning really the right day for this celebration? Communities are still living with ongoing trauma resulting from invasion – from massacres, strategic attempts at genocide, abuse and bias.
In my opinion no. There are much better days to have this celebration. Moving it to a day where we can all celebrate doesn’t take anything away from anyone – all that would be happening is that we would be moving forward together, with respect for the real history of our country and acknowledgement of the journey that brought Australia to where it is today.
But while we wait for the people in charge to realise that there are better dates, there are some things we can all do to support First Nations communities and let the decision makers know that we want a more inclusive date to celebrate.
The lesson on our Wingaru Kids platform – “Moving Australia Day” – is all about this issue. As with all our lessons, we aim to give kids the information about why people have the feelings they do about the 26th of January so that they can develop their own views on the issue. The suggestions below will help kids explore the issue and see the debate from an Aboriginal perspective, a perspective that they may not previously have had the opportunity to explore.
1. Showcase First Nations resilience
This Invasion Day I encourage you to focus on First Nations resilience. Learn about our people, share our stories and showcase our wins. This includes our celebrities, of course, but also look at your local communities. There are First Nations people achieving goals, making change and demonstrating resilience and success in every Aboriginal community. It might be an Elder who provides guidance to the community, or a student who has had an education win or a professional who is leading the way in their industry. Reach out to your community – you never know who you will connect with!
2. Attend an Aboriginal community event
All around Australia, First Nation communities are hosting survival or invasion events; events that acknowledge the impact on our communities, celebrate our resilience and bring our communities together. Many of these events are open to the public and non-Aboriginal people are very welcome. Go along, meet the local community, enjoy the performances of our musicians and have a good feed.
3. Write letters of support about a date change to the decision makers.
If you see the benefits in changing the date, write to our politicians. The more they see that Australians are behind an inclusive celebration date, the more likely we are to get an inclusive celebration. Already, some State and local governments have made changes to the events they hold on this date. Let’s make this national!
4. Help educate
There are many misconceptions about the change-the-date debate. Part of supporting positive change is helping people to understand that we are asking for a new date not asking people to stop celebrating. You could help by highlighting the reasons why this is important. A true celebration of Australia should not exclude its original inhabitants!
5. Don’t feed the trolls
Trolls love this time of year and the distress they can cause, so try not to engage with them. I generally suggest people don’t read the comments as they are incredibly toxic. As an Aboriginal person, I find them overwhelming at times. But I also think that the comments on social media can be an eye opener – many Australians don’t see the ongoing racism that exists in the country but one look at the comments section on Australia Day media items and it is very difficult to deny or ignore the racism that exists. Support the First Nations people around you by acknowledging the bias they are facing and the impact of such bias but don’t provide a platform for the trolls to share their ignorant rhetoric.
One thing that I don’t think non-teachers truly understand is the amount of work teachers do outside of school hours – late into the night, on weekends and during school holidays. I always knew this was the reality of being a teacher. My childhood best friend’s mum was a teacher and I saw how much extra she did. Since then, I have always had an awareness of how hard teachers worked and then as a young adult when I looked back on some of my teachers, I knew their support was above and beyond and in no way happened only in school time. But what really cemented it for me was the year that Wingaru Kids launched when I was getting emails from teachers on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. I was working crazy hours because I was about to roll out the better part of a year’s work and wanted it to be perfect but I wasn’t expecting to have so many teachers reaching out during the festive season. I now know that this isn’t rare.
I get emails from teachers at all times of the day and night – all year round. Which is why I am not at all surprised that despite the fact term 4 of 2021 is not over, teachers are already reaching out to get ready for 2022.
We are ready to set up your 2022 classes and your primary contacts will receive an email shortly with the details. As soon as we receive your class lists, your accounts will be updated and you will be able to print your new class login details and assign lessons. Your access to the Platform and all of its resources is continuous, so please continue to log in to view any of the resources and complete your included PD. Your current students will be able to log in throughout the holiday period so consider adding some more lessons so they can continue their learning over the break. We know that most school’s classes for the coming year are not finalised until early in term 1. You will receive an email to advise we have updated your account with your 2022 class.
Aboriginal education has not always had the priority it has now and I love that so many teachers are genuinely embracing it as a priority and committing to embedding First Nations content in their programs. Your Wingaru subscription can save you a lot of planning and admin time over the holidays. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to get off to a great start with Aboriginal perspectives in 2022.
I am really excited for 2022. I have my fingers crossed for a less disruptive year and I am excited to roll out some of the new content we have coming. I am also looking forward to another great Challenge in 2022 and collaborating with some of the brilliant educators I have been fortunate enough to get to know.
I hope you have a safe and happy festive season that includes some activities that fill your cup and help you to recharge and rejuvenate for the year ahead.
As always, sing out if I can help with anything.
We are almost there – the end of the school year is in sight, hurtling towards us at an odd pace that is both too fast and can’t come soon enough. For many, this term has been a short one with schools coming together after long lockdown breaks and for many this has been a disrupted term as schools adjusted to a new covid normal. The workload hasn’t gotten smaller, just the time to complete it. Both kids and teachers have shown amazing resilience as they pivot in an ever-changing environment with expectations of them changing at an unprecedented rate.
We have all definitely earned some fun this year; some time to rest, recharge and fill our cups as well as the cups of those we love. A few of my friends have admitted to putting up their Christmas trees in mid-November, an early start to festivities and a symbol of putting 2021 behind us. But for me the true sign the year is almost over is when the Christmas craft starts coming home with the kids. I love seeing what they have made and how proud they are to add their newly-made treasures to the tree. It feels like every time I look at the tree, someone has moved their carefully crafted beauty front and centre, a silent tussle for the prime position, where his work cannot be missed.
This year the Wingaru team have worked with two amazing Aboriginal artists – Dunghutti artist Aunty Cynthia O’Brien-Younie, and Marlee Webb, an emerging Darug artist – to bring you some new Christmas crafts for you to share with your class. This year we are excited to add gorgeous gift boxes and tree decorations to our growing collection of Christmas resources. If you are looking for something to put into the gift boxes, check out last year’s wattleseed shortbread recipe – who wouldn’t love to receive a gorgeous box of tiny treats!
I have shared a couple of activities below and Wingaru Kids subscribers will find more Christmas crafts in the ‘Teacher Resources’ section of the dashboard. Here you will also find our Christmas Craft Guide to help you turn a simple craft session into meaningful inclusion of First Nations content. This year our suggestions align with 13 curriculum outcomes.
I hope you get the chance to stop and look around in these last busy weeks. To enjoy the laughter and chatter of the kids in your class and find a moment to join them as they colour, cut and create, eager to get their stories out and to hear the stories of those around them.
I’d love to see your class’s creations so please share them!
Our free Aboriginal craft activities for Christmas - Download from link below
I can’t believe how fast this year has gone! I feel like I blinked and now we are getting ready to roll out the Christmas activities! As well as classrooms full of Christmas crafts (we have some deadly ones coming so keep an eye out!) the end of term 4 is a time that many families like to give their classroom teacher a small gift.
Teachers don’t expect gifts but a small token of appreciation can brighten someone’s day. As parents, it is something we do each year to say thank you for all the hard work in supporting us throughout the school year and my boys love choosing the gifts for their teachers.
This year so many small businesses have been impacted by Covid-related restrictions that we are trying to shop small where possible. Giving back to the community we are part of is important to us and supporting small business is such an easy way to give back. Supporting Aboriginal businesses is something we do all year round and there are so many deadly offerings that are perfect for teacher gifts.
If you are buying teacher gifts this year, I encourage you to check out the many gorgeous gifts that First Nations business are offering. Here are a five of my favourite things for gifting this year:
Last week I sat down for a yarn with the host of WinewithTeacher podcast, Ceri. It was a follow-up to the article about Wingaru and our philosophy that was included in issue 10 of Wine with Teacher magazine which focuses on elevating Aboriginal voices in the education space.
Ceri is one of those people that is always so amazing to have a yarn with. She is so enthusiastic, knowledgeable and open to hearing what other people have to say that you instantly feel at ease and the conversation just flows. It was such a great experience and as I reflect on the being part of the Wine with Teacher community, I realise that the experience wasn’t great just because I think Ceri is deadly. It was great because Ceri is an amazing ally and advocate for Aboriginal education. She has worked with mob to create genuine space for Aboriginal voices in the education space and openly given her platforms to amplify our voices and support us in our work to advocate for strong Aboriginal education approaches that are First-Nations led. The Wine with Teacher community is full of amazing teachers who are actively supporting other teachers, sharing knowledge and open to learning.
Great allies, like Ceri and so many of the amazing teachers I get to work with each day, are so important as we embrace initiatives that strengthen Aboriginal education in this country. Often when I speak with teachers, they are unsure of where they fit in Aboriginal education. They ask about the role they should take and how they can be an ally and make an impact in an authentic and culturally appropriate way. The fact they ask the question is in itself a strong start – genuine listening and consultation with First Nations communities is an important part of being a strong ally.
I have thought a lot about the strong allies that I have been getting to know in the teaching world and they all have a few things in common.
Being an advocate and ally looks different for everyone but embracing these 3 attributes or behaviours will ensure you are supporting change and having positive impact.
I can’t believe we’re in Week 10 of Term 3 already and at the end of our Heal Country Challenge. I’ll be honest in saying that this term certainly didn’t pan out the way I had planned it when I put my Challenge Planner together over the holiday break back in July.
I was so excited to get back into the classroom with my students and create the learning experiences I had planned for my students each week with so many of my favourite resources, but COVID had other plans and we were thrust into remote learning. The Challenge Planner was out the window and it was back to square one of planning and organising how the Challenge would look. At the start it would have been easy to just press the pause button on the Challenge and do it later in the year, but one thing I have learnt over my many years in the classroom is that teaching is all about being flexible and adaptable. Honestly, some of the best learning has come out of those ‘unplanned’ and ‘unscripted’ moments where I deviated from the original plan I had in place.
Taking part in the Heal Country Challenge remotely has been made so much easier thanks to our Wingaru Kids subscription. It has allowed us to continue to set learning tasks and activities aligned to our weekly themes as we had originally planned and for those students without digital access, we have been able to provide them with the printed resources from Wingaru so they can take part in their paper booklet. I have been able to follow these up with my class through our weekly zoom sessions. Our zoom sessions have involved discussion about some of the lessons, and providing students with some of the original learning experiences we had planned like shared reading sessions with quality texts from First Nations authors.
One thing that has come out of this remote learning experience has been the opportunity to broaden my bank of digital resources for embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the classroom. I’ve come across so many new links and digital learning tools thanks to the generous community we have in our Challenge Team and other First Nations educators online who have been sharing their favourite resources with us. For me, this has been another valuable learning experience again. It has provided me with the opportunity to grow in my knowledge, skills and understanding when it comes to embedding First Nations content, culture and perspectives into the classroom learning environment because regardless of our learning context Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives should always be a priority for us as educators.
I hope that this Heal Country Challenge has been a positive experience for you also. Thank you for taking part in the Challenge with us and for continuing on this journey to authentically engage all our students in learning about how we can all be part of the movement to Heal Country together.
Stay safe and keep embedding
I am sure I am not the only parent to mutter obscenities about remote learning this week. It is life and we need to get on with it, but there is no point in mincing words. IT SUCKS!!!!
It sucks for everyone – parents, teachers and most importantly kids. My jarjums are doing so well adjusting to this temporary style of learning but I can tell they miss their friends and the social aspects of school. I am just not as cool as their friends! We are trying to focus on the positives – like how Mr 6 has been able to focus on improving his handwriting and Mr 9 is increasing his ICT skills.
For me one of the positives has been the number of parents who have contacted to share how much both them and their child are enjoying using Wingaru Kids. Parents who are enjoying learning with their children because they have not had access to Aboriginal education before; parents who appreciate the change of pace that Wingaru Kids brings to home learning; parents who are happy that their child is able to access meaningful learning experiences in this trying time; and parents who love that their learner is so engaged.
For many, this is the first time they have seen Wingaru Kids in action and I love that people are reaching out. I don’t often get to hear what parents of school kids think about our resources so it has been lovely to receive the positive feedback about the hard work our team has put in to create the platform.
We don’t know how long remote learning will go for but I hope it is quick. Not only because my family are keen to get back to school but because often remote learning means that learning focuses on a narrow part of education and kids miss out on some of the meaningful experiences that are offered in a classroom. Aboriginal education is one of the areas that becomes less of a priority and while I understand why, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Wingaru Kids provides lessons that meet curriculum outcomes from all key learning areas and supports remote learning in a number of ways:
Individual accounts for every student that can be logged in from any device with a browser.
Complete lessons that simplify assigning work for teachers as well as making navigating work for students and parents.
Engaging lessons that provide a welcome change of pace for learners and parents
Real time mark-book means teachers can see student progress quickly and easily.
Activities to support literacy skills
A range of worksheets and resources that can be printed and included in resource packs being sent home or emailed to students
Self-guided - Informative videos contain all the information kids need to complete the activities.
If you are participating in the Heal Country Challenge, check out our sample plans to guide you on the lessons that will support you to complete the Challenge despite the disruption of remote learning.
Get in contact if we can help your school include Aboriginal education in your home learning plan. Our team can get you set up in just a few hours so that you are ready for your students to explore.
Happy NAIDOC week!
Lockdown in Sydney is certainly not the NAIDOC week I had planned but I am loving the celebrations of community and culture that I am seeing online and in the media. I hope you are getting to participate in some great events!
Speaking of great events have you seen our “Heal Country” Challenge yet? If not, you can read more about it here. The Challenge has gotten off to an amazing start and I am really excited about not only the number of teachers who have signed up for the Challenge but also the genuine commitment to learn and get comfortable with Aboriginal perspectives as an everyday part of education.
Our Challenge Team, and the amazing community of teachers who have signed, up are sharing some great ideas and approaches so make sure you are following along to get some great ideas for your planner. As promised, we have some sample planners that I have shared below. Our planners show how easy Aboriginal perspectives is using Wingaru Kids – we have so many options that support you with Aboriginal perspectives all year round.
The Challenge Team will be sharing their planners soon so keep an eye out for them.
If you are worried about stepping outside your comfort zone for the Challenge, don’t be! The Challenge team are here to support you. I have received lots of emails from teachers who are keen to participate but not sure where to start or if the Challenge is suitable for them.
The Challenge is suitable for every teacher – it is so flexible that you can participate if you have a fulltime class, are a casual teacher or if you are a specialist teacher. The idea is that you consider the focus areas and how you can incorporate them into your lessons. There is lots of room for creativity and thinking outside the box. If you are unsure, reach out – we really are very happy to help.
I have received lots of questions about resources – you can use any resources you like for the Challenge. There are lots of Aboriginal-led resources out there and many will be shared over the coming weeks. I encourage you to only use Aboriginal-led resources and here is why:
I would love to hear your plans for term 3, so share your planner, follow along with the Challenge and together we can make a shift towards a shared understanding of Aboriginal people, our communities and our culture.
ES1 Sample Planner - Download from link below
Stage 1 Sample Planner - Download from link below
Stage 2 Sample Planner - Download from link below
Stage 3 Sample Planner - Download from link below
NAIDOC is just around the corner and for many Aboriginal people, myself included, it’s a favourite time of year. It’s a time when Aboriginal culture takes a front seat, when we get to see our culture and our people front and centre. Australia gets to see us shine as we come together to celebrate our rich culture and communities. The coming together is the best part for me – I get to see mob and connect in a way which seems more and more challenging in the busy world we live in. Many NAIDOC events are community events where everyone is invited and I really encourage you to check out these events – go along, meet members of your local Aboriginal community and learn about the initiatives that are happening in your local area.
NAIDOC is also a time of year that sees many schools embrace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content. They celebrate our communities and get the whole school engaged in Aboriginal education. For many schools, NAIDOC Week is just one of numerous times Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content is included throughout the year but for others, this is the only time they include First Nations content. There are many reasons why a school may only include this content during NAIDOC Week, and I understand the challenges teachers face with an already overcrowded curriculum, but the reality is that Aboriginal education is something that should be included all year round and schools need to be working towards this.
This year’s NAIDOC theme, “Heal Country!”, provides the perfect opportunity to explore ways to include more Aboriginal perspectives and ways you can embed this vital content throughout your program.
Wingaru Kids includes over 43 lessons that align with this year’s theme. Our approach encourages teachers to firstly explore the concept of Country from an Aboriginal perspective and then use this understanding to consider ways that we can all contribute to healing Country. We have created a new lesson that shares an Aboriginal understanding of Country and explains why Country needs healing before considering 6 broad focuses from which healing could be approached. These focuses are:
Check out the NAIDOC category on the Wingaru Kids Platform for the lessons we have collected that explore healing Country.
Last year we teamed up with the amazing Mr J for a Challenge that highlighted how accessible Aboriginal content can be. Mr J shared his journey over the term as he explored ways to appropriately bring First Nations content into his classroom each week. If you aren't already, I suggest you follow Mr J's work on Insta and Facebook.
This NAIDOC we have another Challenge for you – the Heal Country Challenge.
For the Heal Country Challenge we are encouraging you to include one activity from each of the six healing focuses (mentioned above) in your classroom during term 3 and we have some spectacular support to help you.
Each week an amazing group of Aboriginal educators and allies will share their classroom activities, ideas and approaches to support teachers to identify and implement Aboriginal perspectives which support healing Country. They are each so generous with their knowledge and stories that I am busting with excitement to see what they share throughout the Challenge. Make sure you follow each of these amazing educators so you don’t miss any of the amazing knowledge they will be sharing.
@teachingwithtanna - Tanna is a passionate Byellee & Kanaka (South Sea Islander) woman, and graduate secondary teacher who teaches at a small government school on Wurundjeri Country in Naarm. Her passion for Aboriginal education is infectious and I am thrilled that she is going to be sharing her approaches for the secondary space. I walk away from every conversation with Tanna feeling so positive and inspired and I am so pleased she chose to bring her strength, energy and commitment to teaching.
@learning_to_ngangaanha – Jordyn is a Wiradjuri, Ngemba and Paakantji woman and primary teacher. She has over 6 years of teaching experience in both the New South Wales and Western Australian public education systems, and currently works as a classroom teacher on Bundjalung Country with the additional role of being the Aboriginal Education Coordinator for her school. Jordyn shares her passion for Aboriginal Education on her amazing Instagram account where she shares resources and advice to support teachers in genuinely embedding First Nations cultures, histories and perspectives in all learning areas of the curriculum.
@missgibbsau – Miss Gibbs describes herself as a Koorie Mum, teacher and blogger. You have probably seen her amazing blog where she shares her love of Aboriginal education including resources, thought leadership pieces and ideas to support teachers deliver Aboriginal perspectives. Like all of the educators sharing approaches in the Challenge, Miss Gibbs is super generous with her knowledge and her grounded approach really resonates. Her blog really is a must read so if you haven’t visited it yet I encourage you to head over and make sure you are following her throughout the Challenge because she has lots of ideas, resource recommendations and inspiration to share.
@mr.j.learning.space – if you have been following Wingaru for a while you probably know what an amazing ally Mr J is and how much I love working with him. Mr J is super inclusive with both his classroom content and his approach to school leadership and generously shares so much via his insta and facebook accounts. During last year’s Challenge so many teachers shared how helpful they found Mr J sharing his learnings so make sure you are following him to see his ideas for this Challenge.
@rainbowskycreations – The other allies joining us for the Challenge are Alisha and Ashleigh, or as you probably know them, Rainbow Sky Creations. Ash and Alisha are passionate about education and I love the support they offer to teachers as well as their openness in sharing their own learning journeys. I can’t do a better job at introducing them than they themselves can: ‘Together we love creating engaging, curriculum-aligned resources to inspire your primary classroom. Our aim is to help Aussie teachers save time while delivering lessons that make learning magic for their students! We believe in high-quality teaching and learning (for teachers and students) that is sometimes out of the box, we embrace creative solutions, we care for teachers and their wellbeing and are advocates for inclusivity in the classroom and beyond.’ You can check out their work at their insta and on their website.
We have some new planners to help you develop a term plan and some free posters and worksheets to use with your class to identify ways they can contribute to Healing. Download them below. We would love to see your planners and your class commitments to healing, so don’t be shy - share them with the #HealCountryChallenge.
Sign up to the Challenge here to receive hints, tips and information direct to your inbox to support you through the Challenge.
Literally translated as ‘land belonging to no-one’, Australia was a rich gem quickly appropriated by European explorers, the Great Southern Land in the pocket of the empire at last.
Cook’s declaration of ‘terra nullius’, as he stepped ashore on to Gadigal land in 1770, was a lie so steeped in injustice and corruption that it still weeps like a festering sore today. A bastardised catch-all employed with the pomp and vitriol of colonial endeavour, his words were a convenience, removing questions of authority, of ownership, of power.
The explorer’s own diaries – rich in cursive and undeniable evidence of the Indigenous communities to whom this land has always been home – disprove his assertion yet Cook strolled confidently into a future in the knowledge that the cloak of colonisation would hang stanch from this Latin declaration.
These archaic words deftly removed questions of authority, of ownership, of power. Terra nullius removed black Australia at a stroke… replacing it with emptiness.
‘Emptiness’ became the dark interior, untamed land so barren it spawned its own movement – the Australian Gothic. Emptiness represented the void beyond the black stump – the never never – a wild land to be feared. So removed from England’s green and pleasant lands and bucolic inertia, ‘out back’ was stigmatised, tens of thousands of years of culture, civilisation, stories, politics and lore denied, rights extinguished. Emptiness became erasure.
Terra nullius was an excuse to exert European ‘white’ control and unfurl a poisoned blanket of systemic racial dispossession, injustice and enduring prejudice. It described an ‘empty’ space, in which nothing exists; in which Aboriginal Australia was not recognised.
This doctrine has existed in the law of nations throughout the development of Western democracy and is derived from Roman law. It spruiks the concept that ownership by seizure of a thing no one owns is legitimate if the use of the land is not consistent with European ideals. The language here is telling: ‘seizure’ is described as ‘the action of capturing someone or something using force’; ‘legitimate’, too, suggests an illegitimacy inherent in the concept.
Stan Grant writes that terra nullius is “about the denial of humanity, the brutality of that, and the unceasing, unending, irrepressible demand to be heard. [It is] what stops white Australia seeing – truly seeing – black Australia… [We are a nation] founded on an idea that the First Peoples of this continent were invisible”.
He talks, too, of terra nullius memories:
“I have terra nullius memories: poverty and restlessness; being taunted as a black c…t at football training; trying to scrub the colour off my skin; reciting the names of white explorers in class; shrinking at the mention of the poor Aborigines; the schoolyard pledge of allegiance to Queen, God and flag… segregated missions; half-a-day's pay for a full-day's work; turned away from swimming pools and pubs; ‘honorary white’ exemption certificates; welfare homes and signs that read ‘think white, act white, be white’.”
Yet the most powerful argument against the fiction of terra nullius is black Australia. It lives, breathes and replicates its truth in the enduring strength and resilience of Australia’s First People – because we are still here despite countless attempts to erase us. We are the oldest continuous culture on earth, and our connection to Country – this great Southern Land – is a truth that cannot be denied.
Today, on the 75th anniversary of the momentous Mabo case which altered the foundation of Australian land law, native title exists as recognition of First Nations’ enduring connection to this land.
Led by Eddie Kioiki Mabo, the case fought the legal concept that Australia and the Torres Strait Islands were not owned by Indigenous peoples because they did not ‘use’ the land in ways Europeans believed constituted legal possession.
The High Court decided "that the common law of this country recognises a form of native title which, in the cases where it has not been extinguished, reflects the entitlement of the indigenous inhabitants". The court rejected the notion that such a finding undermined the foundations of sovereignty, since, as Justice Brennan put it, the "Crown's acquisition of sovereignty… cannot be challenged in an Australian municipal court". And further, on acquisition of that sovereignty, "the Crown acquired a radical title to the land".
Still, First Nations People are still trapped in the “throes of contestation and opposition” , the need to always defend their histories and identities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People have to prove themselves and show that their rights have not been “washed away on the tides of history”.
The terra nullius lie is pervasive. It will only be truly denounced by recognition of and reconciliation with this country’s First People and moving beyond the empty words of a broken colonial history. 
Always was, always will be.
 Anthropologist Elizabeth Povinelli, as above.
 Stan Grant, 'Terra nullius is a lie': the brutal denial of First Peoples' humanity, Sydney Morning Herald, 2019
With Sorry Day coming up, this time of year is a time when we see people starting to reflect on the past treatment of Aboriginal people and the impact of removal policies that created the Stolen Generations. People come together to offer acknowledgement and support to Aboriginal communities who live with the ongoing trauma of the past.
With it comes a barrage of ignorant opinions about how we just need to get over it. The failure to recognise why we say sorry is not a new thing. Nor is it novel that people fail to see the healing that comes with acknowledgement and fail to look beyond the mainstream narrative about Aboriginal people to see the intergenerational trauma we are dealing with. Each year this becomes more frustrating.
There is an increasing number of Aboriginal people sharing their stories, shining a light on truth and working to close the knowledge gap so that people can start to understand why sorry is so important.
I have shared before about my Aunt who suffered dementia and relived the removal of her children over and over and over again. I will never forget the first time I watched her go through that experience. I felt nausea and a knot in my stomach at the realisation of what was happening and that she could not escape it. Not that day, not ever.
As she made me hide in the cupboard to protect me from being taken, I knew that I was safe, that there was no risk to me.
As she told me to hide under the bed, I was focussed on soothing her, not worried about what might happen to me next.
As she told me she loved me like she would never get to tell me again, I knew that it would not be the last time.
But for her, in those moments, there was not that relief. Her fears were real. She was reliving the worst days of her life, the trauma fresh and never ending.
For her children, watching her relive this experience was undoubtedly painful as they not only felt their mother’s trauma but also their own. There was no reassurance for them when they were taken. They did not know what would happen to them. They did not know when, or if, they would see their mother again. They could not still their fears with the knowledge that it would be ok because they didn’t know that it would be. None of the stolen generations could. And it wasn’t ok.
As we are left with the job of healing, trying to connect all that was lost, we aren’t asking you to take personal responsibility for the past, we are asking you to show empathy and understanding as you acknowledge our story and the journey we are forced to travel.
Survivors of the Stolen Generations and their families navigate the impact of those past policies daily. It may not be reliving the day as my aunt was forced to do but the trauma is evident and the healing far from done. As people struggle with the loss of connection, loss of culture and loss of identity that occurred because they or someone in their family was stolen, we need Australia to see that the acknowledgement of the trauma, suffering and loss that comes with Sorry is an important part of that healing.
This year as you reflect on Sorry Day and you see the inevitable increase in racism, encourage people to get educated, raise awareness about the true history of Australia and the work Aboriginal people are doing to heal.
We believe that there is still so much more room for improvement for the technology sector to enhance its understanding and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as consumers, influencers and allies of their respective products and services.
Interestingly, many people may read the opening point above who are critical or “sitting on the fence” in this space will say “Why do I need to enhance my understanding of Indigenous people?” The answer is actually quite simple: because most of you work in organisations and entities that have a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and/or are influenced by the Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP). And the result is that this benefits your business and all of the people within it, whether it is through revenue and profits or impact marketing. The history of the original people of this country is actually 60,000+ years old, so while we think it is important to teach ourselves and our kids the history of this country, it needs to be done properly. This means the actual history and not selective pieces of it.
With the ever-growing emergence of various types of technology that are increasingly impacting our lives, we are seeing a shift in the jobs of the future to be more centred around growing and servicing the evolution of technology. Combine this with:
There is a perception that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have little experience in the tech space and subsequently this is translated into the way that people are employed in this space. A perfect example is of a story of a young Sydney-based Aboriginal man. This young man is a software developer and has experience working on the tools for several years, as well as being a leader in his team at the large company that he works for. Another global tech company (a household name) approached this young Aboriginal man a few years ago to see if he might be interested in a career opportunity. This young man was elated and jumped at the opportunity. As the conversations between the man and the company proceeded it very quickly became evident that they were wanting to engage him in a sales-based role and not in a more technical capacity. Growing his career in the technical side of things is where he wanted to go. As you can predict, this opportunity did not come to fruition as it was more of an opportunity for the tech corporate giant, than for the young Aboriginal man. This is just one of many stories which exemplifies what is taking place in the tech industry (among other industries) and their engagement with Indigenous people and the Indigenous business sector.
Now, to be clear, there are individuals/champions across the tech sector and working within large corporations and the government that do care about making an impact in the Indigenous space, however, they are repeatedly brought back into the corporate machine that governs their systems, processes and presence in the market. I absolutely get it, I am the cofounder of Ngakkan Nyaagu (NGNY), a tech business, and I am driven by improving the systems and processes that my team uses in order to make their lives easier so that they don’t have to carry as much “weight”. These tools and ways of working make their working days easier and more efficient. But more needs to be done to support these individuals in exploring, experimenting and nurturing opportunities to engage, work with and hire Indigenous people.
Another example is the engagement of my business (NGNY) to bid for tech software and web development project opportunities. We always welcome these opportunities and certainly are not pushing these away. However, we will be invited to bid for a project, then spend time responding to the bid and answering the requirements and then be told that we don’t have enough experience. So, why were we invited to bid in the first place? Oh, that’s right. A lot of the organisations that approach us are in some way governed and influenced by the IPP and are rewarded for demonstrating that they have engaged an Indigenous business in their tender or project response process. To then “rub salt into the wound”, we often see the outputs and results of these projects at their conclusion and are able to define that what was delivered is exactly within our capabilities. Let me be clear here, 99% of the time we lose projects to non-Indigenous entities with the same or similar capabilities and often they are incumbent partners. Again, I get it, there is security and efficiency in going with an organisation that you are already comfortable with, but this is a complete waste of our time and also counterproductive to the existence of the IPP and RAPs.
To further extend on this, we employ a set of processes and systems in NGNY which receive comments from organisations (big and small) engaged with us along the lines of how “amazing” and “easy” our processes and systems are to work with, and that they have “never worked with an organisation like ours that is as organised and transparent in the way we get work done”. My point is that, once given the opportunity, that we have been able to deliver in line and above the expectations of most of our clients and most other Indigenous organisations are the same.
Ultimately, there is a reservation and a deficit mindset when it comes to engaging Indigenous people and businesses for new opportunities and this perception of deficit needs addressing. These are a few ways to address the deficit mindset:
Making a shift in deficit thinking when it comes to Indigenous people in the tech sector is improving, as is evidenced by the growing number of Indigenous people in the sector. However, obvious deficit thinking and related behaviours still exist across the tech sector in Australia and these are still inhibiting the growth of Indigenous people in this space and the first way that we will start to overcome this is by calling it out and taking the appropriate action (yes, “action”, not just words), to reduce deficit thinking and deficit ways of doing.
I know I say this every year – but I love this year’s NAIDOC theme!
This year’s theme – Heal Country! – provides an opportunity for all of us to seek a greater understanding of Country and how we can all better embrace and recognise First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country and how we can better contribute to the healing that is so very much needed.
For many, this year’s theme will be the first time they consider Country as more than a place and begin to understand that it is inherent to our identity. Country sustains our lives in every aspect - spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially and culturally. We are elements of Country – part of a larger system that is built on interconnected relationships that promote sustainability for all of its elements.
Aboriginal people have for generations been calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of our culture and heritage. There are many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are working tirelessly to contribute the knowledge that is crucial to drive education about why this is so important and how we might go about it and I think the reason I am so excited about this year’s theme is because it provides a focus on that important role and the potential that education has when it comes to healing.
I very strongly believe that education is key to the healing that needs to happen and the sooner this education journey starts for all Australians the better. Sharing knowledge and information that develops the wider understanding of our communities and cultures is, in my opinion, the only way we can really start the type of healing our mobs need. That Australia needs. That Country needs.
Reading about the theme on the NAIDOC website, it really resonated with me and the reasons why I started Wingaru. I can see the impact that education has in the schools we work with - the confidence of teachers as they gain understanding of their role in healing and develop confidence in better ways of working; the confidence of kids as they thrive in culturally competent environments as schools tweak approaches that make the environment so much more accessible for Aboriginal kids; the understanding that is creeping, ever so slowly into mainstream Australia as people ask questions and take the time to become informed.
One thought particularly stuck with me:
‘We cannot afford to let pass the very real opportunity that now presents itself for reform based on a fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’
Education is such an important part of this reform and without it change is difficult. But we need to make sure that education is strong and this means considering education at all stages of life from early childhood through to adulthood. We need education to be Aboriginal led, culturally safe and accessible for all.
I have been thinking a lot about healing Country and how Wingaru can contribute. It’s a big task but if we all do our bit, it does get easier. The daily frustration of teachers who are looking for support with Aboriginal education but are impeded by barriers around resourcing is something that I can help address. NAIDOC is something that many schools observe and this year more than ever, NAIDOC should be the start of continued action and continued learning to support healing.
To support this Wingaru is offering our Wingaru Kids package at considerably reduced prices. Wingaru Kids bundles professional development and classroom resources to support teachers to bring Aboriginal voices into the classroom as students learn information and skills that promote an understanding and life-long appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
We have also teamed up with the amazing Mr J for another challenge to support you to play a role in healing Country by bringing more Aboriginal content into your classroom. The Challenge details will be announced on social media in coming weeks so make sure you are following Wingaru Education (Facebook, Instagram) and Mr J’s Learning Space (Facebook, Instagram) for all the details.
Request a trial now to access this special pricing for individual teachers or whole school subscriptions.
When I was in my first year of Uni I found myself in a conversation about Aboriginal people and all the things wrong with them. It was a conversation fuelled by misconceptions and stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream media. I wondered if anyone present had actually ever met an Aboriginal person. It was awkward. When should I speak up and tell them that the people they were talking about were my people? That I was one of these Aboriginal people they spoke so negatively about. My opportunity came when one of the group stated that he had never met “a good one”.
‘What about me?’ I said.
The group stared back at me, unsure what to say. They were quiet for a minute, clearly confused and not really sure what to think. My awkwardness became theirs as they realised that they had been caught in their racism, not that they would identify it as that. Finally, one of them spoke “Are you really Aboriginal? You don’t look it”.
Now this is a conversation I had had a thousand times, and have had a million more times since. I explained that Aboriginal people are diverse, not cookie cut outs of the stereotypical black person that mainstream media would have the world believe and it inevitably leads to the person declaring that I am somehow different, because I don’t meet their stereotype of an Aboriginal person – that somehow by doing well I have overcome the deficit that is associated with being Aboriginal. It is a conversation that most Aboriginal people are well versed in.
The deficit perception, the view that Aboriginal people are not capable, is something that still persists and Aboriginal people are still forced to prove themselves when other people don’t have to. Even when we have done something that shows we are capable, a question lingers about how we manage to achieve it. The fact that we achieved something overshadows what we have actually done and many people think we were only able to achieve because of a loop hole or handout.
As children, people often don’t expect us to achieve much. Our kids are often not pushed to their full potential because it is assumed that we are excelling just by scraping by. We go to Uni and people assume we got there on a hand-out, a mystical free pass. As adults many of us find ourselves in jobs where we are not utilised to our full potential.
I believe that the deficit perception is left over from the years when Government policy portrayed us as inferior in order to justify the way it treated us. They under-estimated our abilities and worth then and that has unfortunately continued and become part of the unconscious bias against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that permeates today’s world.
This year I would like to actively and directly start to change the deficit perception. If you are a teacher, I encourage you to get to know your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, see their strengths and let them know you see their potential and expect them to achieve it. Encourage and support them to do this – work with them and their community to make sure they don’t get lost in the assumption that good enough is all they can achieve. Opportunity rather than ability is the barrier we face.
If you are an employer, talk to your Aboriginal staff – do they feel you are utilising their skills as well as you can be? Are there growth opportunities they would like to undertake?
This year, Wingaru will be sharing the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who counter the deficit perception. Whose everyday life shows that our First Nations people are strong, determined and capable. That the deficit perception is the biggest myth of all.
Where did term 1 go? I feel like the end of term arrived in the blink of an eye. I hope you have had a great term and have found a classroom rhythm of lots of new discoveries that includes Aboriginal perspectives.
The end of term 1 of course means Easter and the chocolate eggs and craft that come with it! While Easter is not an Aboriginal celebration, eggs were a big part of customary life and looking at how Aboriginal people used eggs is a great perspective for all age groups. I love that over the last couple of years we have been able to support many classrooms increase inclusions of Aboriginal perspectives by considering eggs in this way.
The protocols around egg gathering took into consideration the sustainability of the species producing them. Eggs were respected as a source of life as well as nourishment for mob. Eggs would be collected in vessels weaved by Aboriginal women from the naturally available reeds and materials of the local area.
This year our Easter printable features the artwork of Darug Artist, Chloe Webb. I hope your students enjoy colouring Chloe’s work and constructing their own basket to be filled with whatever goodies they choose.
We would love to see your completed baskets so please share them with us Facebook @wingaru and Instagram @wingaru_education.
I wish you a relaxing and safe break and look forward to sharing some more First Nations knowledge with you in term 2.
Check out our Aboriginal-themed Easter activities from previous years by clicking the "Free Resources" filter at the top of our main blog page.
Aboriginal education is an area of teaching that can have an incredible impact on the world we live in. I was thrilled when I saw that the NSW Government had introduced priority areas of teacher PD that included Aboriginal education. So many teachers reach out for support in this area. I know that this new focus will help to drive real support for educators who are striving to refine their practice and I think over the next year or two we will see so many teachers gain greater confidence.
It is an opportunity to rethink how we approach Aboriginal education and I hope that school leadership teams embrace the opportunity and work with their teachers and other stakeholders to make changes that focus on teacher capacity to drive better Aboriginal education outcomes for their entire school communities. Teachers are definitely willing to embrace the change but they need the support to do so. The time has come for decision makers to consider real change and move away from doing what they have always done in this area of education because frankly, it is not working. In NSW the introduction of priority areas for PD means that teachers will now have more opportunities to consider these much- needed new approaches.
Since we introduced PD last year, a common question I am getting is “what kind of PD should I be looking for?”. The answer will depend on individual circumstances but I think we need to focus on Aboriginal education as having two distinct but often lumped together focuses.
In an ideal world, teachers would have the opportunity to complete PD in both these areas and consider these two focuses separately and give the needed attention to both aspects. Choose PD that gives you this opportunity and the space to consider the space at your own pace.
I also suggest seeking out PD that is led by Aboriginal voices – it will give you an insight that material created by non-Aboriginal people, no matter how experienced, cannot give you.
We currently have 4 PD courses available, each delivered by two experienced Aboriginal educators and aligned with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
I am overwhelmed by the positive feedback we have gotten. Our format - with the Aunties having a yarn - shares knowledge in a natural way. It is how Aboriginal people have been learning for thousands of years. I love that teachers are finding the content thought provoking and the activities are helping to identify resources and ideas that can be used in the classroom.
Each course can be enrolled in separately and we offer group pricing so if you are looking for PD to roll out across your school get in touch for tailored pricing. You can choose one of our courses as part of your Wingaru Kids subscription.
By bundling PD and resources, Wingaru kids is delivering a system of support that provides resources that teachers can use in the classroom and the background knowledge of how and why to use them.
The importance of local perspectives is one of the key messages associated with Aboriginal education. Every teacher is familiar with the call for local perspectives and ultimately the challenges associated with finding appropriate content.
There is no single Aboriginal culture. There were upward of 250 language groups in Australia at the time of colonisation and each group has its own culture and lore. The information that we learn about one, may not apply to another. In an ideal world we want people to be acknowledging and observing local practices, beliefs and protocols. This is where local perspectives in schools help – it is an opportunity for kids to understand that each mob is different and to understand the approach of their local community. It builds cultural competence by supporting kids to go into the world knowing that they will encounter Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures that are different to the one that they have learned about and it arms them with enough awareness to support a respectful navigation of these differences.
But have local perspectives become a barrier to better Aboriginal education? More precisely, is the interpretation of local perspectives becoming a barrier? So many teachers I have spoken with are stuck because they fear that including anything that is not directly related to their local area will be seen as wrong or worse, offensive. Schools are opting to limit the inclusion of Aboriginal content and I don’t believe this was ever the intent of the call for local perspectives.
I can hear the frustration in teachers’ voices as they try to meet a goal that seems impossible because there are no resources and the school doesn’t yet have the connections it needs in the local community or the local community doesn’t currently have the capacity to provide the support the school needs. I understand how Aboriginal education ends up in the too hard basket, I really do. But that doesn’t make it ok. By reframing what we are trying to achieve with local perspectives we can eliminate the barrier, reduce your frustration and deliver better Aboriginal education outcomes.
Let’s look at the bigger picture. What are we trying to achieve? For me a focus on local perspectives does three things:
We can achieve these goals more easily without taking a “local perspectives or nothing” approach. By looking more broadly at how you can include Aboriginal content into your program you will find the task of including regular inclusions less daunting and open up opportunities for students to investigate the local approach.
Let’s use bush tucker as an example. You don’t need a resource that tells you exactly the food sources eaten by your local community pre-invasion. You can look at broader resources (like the ones we have on Wingaru Kids) to consider what factors influence food availability, what techniques were often used to obtain and prepare food and introduce the types of food sources that were available Australia wide. This gives kids the knowledge they need to start investigating what food sources may have been available in the local area, what food sources are still widely available in the area and how the availability has changed.
This approach also supports Aboriginal kids who are living off Country to apply concepts to their own mob as well as the local community they currently live in. Looking at an additional mob can lead to great discussions giving students the opportunity to compare and contrast between the local community and another mob.
It’s a simple change in approach that can make all the difference to how you are able to bring Aboriginal content into your classroom. If you are a Wingaru Kids user, you will find local perspectives worksheets in each of our lessons to support kids to apply their new knowledge to their local area.
I would love to hear about your approaches to local perspectives and the things that you are doing in your classroom.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.