How is the 2019 school year here already?
This week as families, including my own, get back into the swing of everyday life and remember the routines that come with having school age children, I can’t help but be excited about what the year may hold. How will my children grow and develop this year? What newly found knowledge will they share with me as they burst through the door eager to share the amazing facts they have discovered? How much bigger will their feet get and how many new pairs of shoes will I need to buy to keep up? With each year I see more of the great men they will be and watching them navigate who they will be is without a doubt one of my greatest privileges.
I am also really excited to introduce some new services to Wingaru as we introduce Wingaru Butabuta Cultural Awareness Training and education services for adults. The name Wingaru Butabuta is inspired by the teaming up of two amazing Aboriginal women who have come together to share their knowledge and experience with organisations looking to increase their cultural capacity. Tricia, a Darug woman, and Cynthia, a Dunghutti woman, share the Wingaru mission of creating a shared understanding about Aboriginal Australia.
Wingaru, a Darug word meaning 'to think' and Butabuta, a Dunghutti word, meaning 'together' is the perfect name for the services that Tricia and Cynthia will be overseeing and there are no words to express how excited I am to introduce the program that they have put together. Wingaru Butabuta offers programs for organisations of all types including government and non-government organisations, teachers and educators working across all stages as well as individuals wishing to increase their understanding of Aboriginal people. We are also able to support organisations in developing culturally appropriate education materials, programs and plans such a Reconciliation Action Plans.
We also have some great things planned for the coming year for Wingaru Kids and Bubs. We of course have new content for both platforms, including NAIDOC resources which will support kids of all ages to think about the importance of Aboriginal voices, the truth about Aboriginal history and our people, and of course treaty and the ways that we can best recognise the rights of our first nations. Our educators have been busy over the break working on Aboriginal perspectives for STEM. This includes revisiting many lessons on the Wingaru Kids Platform to highlight relevant Science outcomes and have included engaging new printables. We also have some new language lessons on the way in recognition of 2019 being the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
When I chat to the teachers whose classes use the Wingaru Platform the most, the thing they have in common is planning, whether it be yearly, termly or weekly. The curriculum is busy and it is difficult to find time for all the things we ask teachers to include in the classroom so having lessons where Aboriginal perspectives are combined with outcomes from Key Learning Areas such as HASS, Science, PDHPE or English is a big advantage.
Planning can also support more regular inclusion of Aboriginal content in the classroom so as you are planning for this term I encourage you to consider ways you can deliver Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives each week. I'd love to see your approach to planning - sing out if we can help!
Every time I hear someone say that racism is not a problem in Australia I am surprised because racism is an everyday factor in the lives of Aboriginal people. Regardless of our age, skin colour and social status we are disadvantaged every day due to attitudes and actions based on our Aboriginality. And I am genuinely surprised that people cannot see it. How do they miss it?
You need look no further than social media to see this. Read any post that relates to an Aboriginal person and you will see the plethora of racist comments based on myth, bias and ignorance. A white person dies and the world expresses sympathy and support for the family in an outpouring of grief. An Aboriginal person dies and the family is instantly judged as incompetent, criminal and disrespectful. The ignorant comments come thick and fast.
The recent comments on the death of the lads from Townsville is an example of this. It was instantly assumed they died committing a crime (that later reports revealed to be committed by a white man) and people felt it appropriate to write comments that are nothing short of disgusting, adding to the stress, trauma and loss a family is already facing. Why is the loss of an Aboriginal life not given the same respect as the non-Aboriginal person?
Australia Day is another example of the racism that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face daily. The belief that we do nothing but drink, wait for handouts and do nothing to better our lives feeds the hate that is directed towards us. Reading the comments is exhausting but I couldn’t look away because our country cannot go on the way it is. We need to find a solution and therefore need to understand where the hate comes from. Racism is complicated and I am not suggesting that the solution is simple but reading the comments it was very clear that most of the hate comes from misinformation and ignorance that continues to be spread due to fear. We can address this through education.
The reality is this – Australia was invaded and the country stolen from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People who despite the atrocities committed against them have maintained a connection to land. Acknowledging this takes nothing away from non-Aboriginal people. No one is asking them to pay for the crimes of the past, but acknowledging that the past happened and had a lasting impact is important.
Educating all Australians will help address the misconceptions feeding racism. We need to start there.
Closing the Gap Day is next week and it is a great opportunity to start a conversation about Aboriginal disadvantage to inform an understanding about the issues impacting on Aboriginal people and what we can all do to start to address the gap. We had a great response to our Closing the Gap Activity last year so I have attached it again in case you would like to revisit.
NAIDOC Week is fast approaching and Aboriginal communities are buzzing with excitement about the opportunity to come together and celebrate our culture and recognise the work people in our communities are doing to promote, protect and preserve our culture.
Each year our celebrations seem to get bigger. It is a busy week and I love it!
It is an opportunity to acknowledge the work people have been doing, check out community initiatives and come together to celebrate our people. It is about connecting and reconnecting with people. It is about pride. It is about looking around and seeing all the great things our communities are doing and taking a moment to breathe that in, appreciate who we are and our place in the world. It is a time when, just for a moment, we can move the focus from the negativity and struggles that our people face day in and day out and move the attention to all the great things we are doing to overcome the adversity.
It is an opportunity to show the wider community our resilience and the great things we have achieved because, let’s be honest, our great work is often lost in the overwhelming negative voice of mainstream media and misinformed public opinion. And it is an opportunity to invite non-Aboriginal communities into our world, to experience some culture and witness firsthand the deadly people we are.
For schools, NAIDOC provides a great platform to introduce students to Aboriginal people, issues and education. It is an important week for all students and offers lessons in respect, self-respect, leadership and acceptance as well as Aboriginal education.
For some students, NAIDOC is the only exposure they get, the only opportunity to see through the misconceptions that permeate Australian society. It is an opportunity for Aboriginal students to stand tall and be proud of who they are and show their friends and peers the great things about being Aboriginal. It was at school, many years ago now, that NAIDOC became a key date on my calendar. I loved the activities and the fact that my parents and community came to school. The sports days, the BBQs, the art projects, the performances and the interest and respect that non-Aboriginal students showed that week.
NAIDOC will look different for every school – the most important thing is to enjoy your celebrations! We'd love to see your pictures and hear about your activities so please share on our social media.
Download our free NAIDOC poster and colouring sheets below.
Over the last week we have been honouring Black Diggers for their service. I am overwhelmed by the response! Every single person who has served for this country deserves the highest respect and I have seen that this week. The pride the Aboriginal community has for our soldiers is heartwarming. It is great to see Black Diggers getting the recognition they deserve.
I have learnt a lot and been privileged to hear the stories of great people. I hope schools start to include Aboriginal soldiers in their ANZAC lessons and am proud of the resources we offer to support this.
I am fortunate enough to call Uncle Ken Canning a friend and am excited to share, with his blessing, one of his poems. You can download a printable version at the bottom of this post.
You will find more of Uncle Ken's work at https://vagabondpress.net/products/ken-canning-burraga-gutya-yimbama.
Author Burraga Gutya (Ken Canning)
Hail!! You brave men.
You gave your all,
Not for King or Queen
but for country.
in your heart.
All wars all battles,
the strong Black Diggers
stood tall proud
and gave honour
to all Peoples
of this land.
Fires of war
some came home
to be shunned
your fought for,
the brave Black Digger,
as brave as those
in our frontier wars.
You once more
were cast out by
a callous country.
allowed to speak
to those you fought
so valiantly beside.
humble Black Digger,
we your Peoples,
still amongst us,
stand tall in honour.
For at the going down
of every sun,
we shall always
BRAVE BLACK DIGGERS.
Burraga Gutya (Ken Canning)
One of the visions I have for Wingaru is that we are able support people to consider Aboriginal perspectives in a new way. By making information more accessible and providing complete packages of resources that support a range of learning outcomes, Aboriginal perspectives can easily be included regularly and not just limited to the designated ‘Aboriginal unit’ or ‘Aboriginal week’ that a lot of schools have delivered in the past.
I feel very strongly that we need this change. Many kids are still leaving school with little education about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, culture or history. They are going unprepared into a world that now requires them to have an understanding of these issues. As a society we are stuck in conversations that should be over. But this progression can’t happen without the development of a shared knowledge base and for this to develop we need to make a concerted effort to include Aboriginal perspectives in the classroom regularly.
I love it when teachers tell me that they are including more Aboriginal content in their classrooms and not just being limited to standard designated topics. An easy example is including a lesson on how Aboriginal People used astronomy in a unit about planets or including information about Aboriginal Diggers in lessons about ANZAC day or looking at traditional Aboriginal toys as part of a STEAM activity. The possibilities are endless and Wingaru Kids is here to make this easier.
Easter activities are underway in many classrooms around the country and this is a great opportunity to take a different approach and include an Aboriginal perspective. While Aboriginal People did not celebrate Easter, eggs were an important part of customary life – diet, art and ceremony - and all this talk of eggs is a great time to look at how Aboriginal people used eggs. Here are some free resources to help get you started.
Our Closing the Gap activity is a free resource for primary school teachers to promote discussions on the issues surrounding National Closing the Gap Day. By facilitating a role playing activity students will gain a greater understanding of the importance of the commitments made by the Australian Government, whilst brainstorming their own solutions.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.