What a week Australia has had! With increasing uncertainty about just about everything, life is changing drastically for most Australians. For schools around Australia these changes are immense and teachers and principals are working overtime to do everything they can to support education for our kids. It is not an enviable job – catering to kids who have to attend daily as well as those that can stay home while putting together programs for online learning in case we are not back to school as normal for term 2 and supporting their students who are feeling the uncertainty. Then of course they have their own families to organise and plan for.
It is a confusing time and everyone is worried. Parents have questions and are feeling the pressure of taking on a bigger role in their children’s day to day education which is not easy. It is a good time remember to be kind to each other. Teachers are doing the best they can. I have spoken to many teachers in the last week who are searching for the right resources to keep kids on track with their learning goals. Nothing replaces a classroom teacher but teachers are working to come up with the next best thing – a balanced, engaging program that can be delivered digitally or via take-home packs. Trust your kid’s teachers, be patient and be kind. We are all in this together.
Wingaru Kids is a tool that can support schools in this time. It offers a range of lessons meeting outcomes from all key learning areas and students can access the resources from anywhere. For teachers it offers quality content that can be provided with little preparation and for students it offers engaging content that provides variety in the work that is being sent home. We have been contacted by many parents this week asking how they can access our resources. We are working on how to do this but at this time the best way is to speak to your classroom teacher about organising access through your school. They can set up a free trial and our team are working to set accounts up in just a few hours. We are working with schools to meet their budget so we encourage them to get in touch and see what we can do.
Our educators are also working on resources that we will be sharing on our social media so make sure to follow us on facebook and Instagram so you don’t miss them.
Speaking with many teachers and parents this week, one thing is very clear - we are all worried about how this epidemic affects our kids. Coronavirus is everywhere we turn and kids are hearing so much information that they probably don’t understand. The uncertainty is a cause of worry for many. Mr 8 saw a report on the news about the impact of the virus on Aboriginal people and asked me if he was going to die. The concern in his face was heartbreaking – it’s a level of worry that none of us want our kids to feel. After a yarn with a few kids in my life I realised they were all experiencing a new level of concern and while the specific worries differed, the level of concern was high. I reached out to Nathenya, the director of Kids Steps Speech Pathology, who we provided Cultural Awareness Training to late last year. I explained that some were worried because they heard that old people would die and Aboriginal people were going to be one of the groups most affected and asked her if she had any suggestions on how I could support my kids. Nathenya said some of her clients had expressed similar concerns and gave me some strategies that might help not only my jarjums but many of our young friends out there. I have attached a social story that might be of help to your family. Please use it with your children and share it with other families that you think could do with some support.
I hope your mob stays safe and healthy in this time.
The catastrophic bushfires that have torched much of the country since September have raised many questions about fire management in Australia. While a shocked and shattered population are blaming everyone from environmentalists to the Prime Minister other stories are emerging of what appear to be lucky escapes but may just hold the answer to best-practice fire management for the future.
There are many different types of fire that occur in Australia. These include:
There are three main types of deliberate fires in Australian bushland:
Cultural burning is also known as firestick farming and it is no coincidence that the word farming is used in this phrase. For traditional Aboriginal People land was their food, their livelihood, their country and their home. Despite over two centuries of colonial propaganda, we now know that Aboriginal People managed crops (of grasses, grains and tubers) to provide sustainable food. They farmed eels and fish to establish an ongoing food source. And through cultural burning they managed the safety of the land that supported plant and animal species that provided food and resources for survival. The fire was used to manage the land and produce more favourable outcomes for survival.
Cultural burning employs small, “cool” fires that encourage the regrowth of desirable native plants.
It is a practice that has been perfected over centuries. There are cultural protocols involved. Indigenous practitioners vary their techniques to match the particular country that they are in. Their knowledge of the land enables a targeted approach.
The heat of any fire will determine what plants grow back. For example:
Hazard reduction burns are a contentious issue. There is much misinformation by climate deniers that the 2019-20 summer fires are purely the result of tree-hugging environmentalists preventing the undertaking of hazard reduction burns. This has been countered by a range of experts from scientists to fire chiefs who explain that such burns are never the decision of community groups or political parties. Hazard reduction burns must be undertaken when circumstances and resources allow. The weather must be favourable to undertake hazard reduction burns. If the ground is too wet after rain, the fires won’t burn. If the land is too dry and the wind is strong, the fires can’t be undertaken safely. Even when conditions are ideal there is public outcry that the smoke has settled in heavily populated areas causing health risks (for example, hazard reduction burns in the Blue Mountains have been known to fill the Sydney basin with smoke).
Aspects of climate change (longer, hotter summer periods, more heatwaves and longer-lasting drought) have been seen to reduce the window in which hazard reduction burns can be undertaken and that in turn puts pressure on fire services to maximise the efficiency of burns when they can be done. But this approach could be contrary to the practice of cultural burning because a hot, hurried burn may cause the regrowth of a plant community that becomes the fuel load of a subsequent fire season.
Cultural burning is a practice developed over millennia. Indigenous fire management involves many layers of knowledge. Practitioners must know about different country, different types of tree, different ecosystems that burn differently at different times of year. It aims for “cool” burns that improves the health of Country and makes a safer environment. It is an ongoing process. As plants regrow the type and distribution of species is monitored to see if further burning is required. Ongoing inspection and maintenance is crucial.
In the recent summer bushfire crisis stories have emerged of unprotected properties surviving a fire that completely surrounded them. Owners had evacuated and thought their homes were lost. No-one remained to extinguish the flames and yet the homes escaped the blaze. This seemingly miraculous outcome has been attributed to recent cultural burns which reduced to fuel load in the nearby bush in those specific locations.
In other places, the fuel load on the ground meant fires burnt so ferociously that they reached the canopy of the trees where the eucalyptus oil provided an additional, explosive fuel source that was difficult to combat and often caused firefighters to retreat and homes to be lost.
Australians are indebted to the brave and hardworking volunteer firefighters who have faced this catastrophe with bravery, skill and dedication. Some have paid the ultimate price, losing their lives to save others and questions will be asked about how this can be avoided in the future. Why does so much responsibility fall to unpaid citizens? How can we reduce the risks in the summers ahead.
Meanwhile, throughout Australia, many Aboriginal groups are learning and teaching the ageless methods of cultural burning. While some fire-fighting experts have denounced the current method of hazard reduction burns in favour of cultural burning, the practice has not been widely employed. Hopefully as the smoke recedes and the embers of this terrible summer die out there will be extensive investigation of how we manage fire risk on this continent with appropriate deference to the people who have been practising their methods and refining their techniques for thousands of years.
Can you believe it is 2020 already? I feel like 2019 passed by in a blink and all of a sudden we are here, a few days away from a new school year. A fresh start with new challenges ahead for teachers, students and parents.
Aboriginal perspectives is one of those challenges for many teachers. Putting together a program that meets curriculum requirements, is engaging and works for the kids in their class is no small feat, especially since a teacher may not have met the students in their class for the year ahead. Yet teachers do this year in and year out, usually during the holidays.
One of the challenges that comes up during this planning is how to incorporate Aboriginal perspectives, and how to do it in a meaningful way. The fear of being seen as tokenistic often means teachers do not include an activity out of respect and not wanting to offend somebody. I would love to see teachers feel comfortable in including perspectives, even if they are small. Small does not mean tokenistic. Short activities or pieces of information contribute to a child’s knowledge base and understanding of the world around them and when it comes to Aboriginal perspectives, short learning opportunities are much better than what most kids are getting now.
Wingaru Kids supports teachers to include a short activity/session that relates to something already being explored in the classroom. For example, include Aboriginal Astronomy with your study of Earth and Space Science or learn to count in Darug when exploring numbers and counting in Maths classes. This is a really easy way to include perspectives across all key learning areas.
The whole purpose of Aboriginal perspectives is to give kids an appreciation and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It would be great to see 2020 as the year that we focus on getting more perspectives in the classroom and letting small things grow into a solid knowledge base for students going forward.
As a starting point you could:
I’d love to hear how you are incorporating Aboriginal perspectives in your classroom. Maybe the things you are doing are just what another teacher needs to get the ball rolling in their classroom.
A few months ago I went to a networking meeting – an opportunity to meet with other business people in the area in the hope of meeting some like-minded people who might one day be interested in collaborating on a project. To be honest I hate these events. I am not great at small talk and I feel awkward in a room of strangers. I try to make myself go a couple of times a year because as I tell my kids, it is good to step out of your comfort zone occasionally and challenge yourself to practice something you are not comfortable doing. I have also met some inspiring people doing some amazing things at these events so deep down I know it is a worthwhile activity despite my hesitation.
At this particular event I found myself talking to a lad, making small talk about his start up and the challenges he has faced in getting his vision from paper into the real world. His story was interesting and very different to mine. He was friendly and I think good hearted and I was enjoying our conversation. He asked about my journey and the barriers we face at Wingaru and I shared some of our barriers including race-based barriers that we are working to overcome. I talked about the assumed deficit that many people think Aboriginal people have – like we somehow cannot achieve to the same level as non-Aboriginal people, that we don’t quite do as good a job as our non-Aboriginal counter parts; how people incorrectly assume we have received massive amounts of funding to create our resources so our resources should be free of charge; how people continually dismiss Aboriginal education as an Aboriginal issue rather than a crucial part of Australia’s education system; and how as a business we often have to deal with racism before we can discuss our projects.
His interest in what I am trying to achieve was genuine and he confessed that I was the first Aboriginal person he had ever met. To be honest I am always a little shocked when people tell me they don’t know any blackfullas. Honestly, we are everywhere! But it is something I hear often, although I suspect that most people have met an Aboriginal person but haven’t realised because most of us don’t fit the stereotype that people are expecting. I shouldn’t have been too shocked when he suggested I pretend I wasn’t Aboriginal so that I didn’t have to face the adversity that our mob face. At least he didn’t suggest I line up for my free car or house, right?
It makes sense really. Why would anyone want to face the adversity that Aboriginal people face every day? Why, if we had a choice, would we put ourselves out there to become the subject of racial hate, disadvantage and misconceptions that continually pop up as barriers that stand in our way?
Because being Aboriginal isn’t a choice. It is part of who I am. I have always been raised to be proud of my culture and my mob. We are resilient, we are strong, we are still here despite every attempt to keep us down. I couldn’t pretend I am not Aboriginal even if I wanted to. It would be like pretending I am a duck instead of a human. I don’t know how to be anything but an Aboriginal woman. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am part of an amazing culture and a great community. I am proud of all the things we as a people have achieved.
This seemingly innocent comment highlighted just how far mainstream Australia is from understanding Aboriginal Australia. To think that it is as simple as choosing not to be who you are so that you are treated appropriately by other people feels like something from 100 years ago, not today. In the past Aboriginal people did deny their Aboriginality out of fear but surely we are past that? How are we approaching 2020 and people still think like this? Not because they are trying to be disrespectful but because they don’t know better? If there was ever an argument for changes in Aboriginal education for all Australians, this is it. We cannot have another generation not knowing. We need change.
I asked him what he thought, about being taught proper blackfella stuff. He’s nine, just recently turned, and while he has a turn of phrase to rival the greatest orator when excepting himself from homework or feeding the Kelpie, I was genuinely unsure what his response would be.
His face – muscles appearing where hair will come, eyes growing wiser by the day – split into a joyous grin, and the words tumbled out un-thought, a stream of pure consciousness that is as authentic as it gets.
“Mama, I love it! It’s all the stories about this land, stories about the creatures that live here and stories that sound like songs… and the games are great: they’re funny and clever and it’s not like school work at all but I’m still learning. Do you want to see too? I can show you?”
If you knew my child, you would know that this is solid endorsement indeed. His bright little mind whirs continually, a powerful engine of curious thought. But school? He’s not so keen. I have seen him adeptly tap out a the theme tune to M*A*S*H using four pencils and a Lego ninja while failing miserably to take in what is being said about multiplication algorithms beneath the beady eye of his teacher. Big blue eyes and a freckled smile get him a long way, and he skirts through much of the required syllabus with a wily shrug and insouciant attitude.
And yet, when we roam – swags belted, truck torqued, tarps often unravelling in a dirt-road scene akin to Priscilla – he is fascinated by the world around him, the culture and story and the application of this on Country. He was taught to make animal tracks by Uncle Kev Buzzacott on the edge of Lake Eyre. He learned to pick and cook wild rosella fruit, sticky hands dipping in and out of the pot on the fire on the banks of a lazy green river. And he will happily eat roo tail with his hands, fur and all.
This child has absorbed everything he has been taught about Indigenous Australia, because it is relates to the very heart of this land. Ask him and he will say, “it’s Australia’s story Mama, so that means it’s everybody’s story”. And while he is lucky enough to have experienced the broadest reaches of this country, this tenet remains at the core of why I celebrate the opportunity he has to receive an Aboriginal education.
I have always taught him that knowledge is power: to understand and engage critical thought to situations is powerful. The understanding that he gains from an Aboriginal curriculum is equally and notably so, as it engenders shared understanding. It encourages recognition and respect, an embracing of diversity for its strengths as opposed to restricted, closed-minded colonial mythologies that breed discrimination, prejudice and inequality.
As the oldest continuous living culture on earth, the knowledge and lore of the traditional owners of this land is of seminal importance to Australia and globally. It is something to be innately proud of, to celebrate and to embrace with every part of our national identity. That it isn’t remains a mystery to me, but I have to believe that will change.
And I know that the chance to broaden his understanding of the world with an ancient knowledge will help him navigate his future and that of those he loves in an equitable, diverse and caring capacity, a capacity that engenders reconciliation and ongoing understanding between the many, many people of the land on which he grows.
People often think that cultural awareness training is only for large organisations but the reality is organisations of any size can benefit from cultural awareness. This year our Butabuta facilitators have delivered our cultural awareness program to organisations with as few as 10 staff and across all sectors – private, public and not for profit. Each of these organisations had a different reason for organising training but each one was seeking to increase the knowledge of staff about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, our history and how we can all move forward and start addressing the outcome gaps our mob experience.
Over the last week I have been contacted by a couple of small businesses who are considering cultural awareness training but are unsure if they will benefit from it so I thought I would share, with their permission, about two of the small organisations that we provided training for this year - Kids Steps Speech Pathology and Tempe OOSH.
Kids Steps Speech Pathology
Kids Steps Speech Pathology is a private practice located on beautiful Gumbaynggirr Country in Coffs Harbour with services also offered at Grafton, Yamba, Macksville and into New England. The team offer a range of services to support kids who need support with speech and language disorders. The incidence of speech and language disorders is higher in Aboriginal populations and the Kids Steps Team, who work with a number of Aboriginal families, want to make sure that they can appropriately engage and support Aboriginal families in therapy to support our jarjums. The NDIS means more families can access the therapies they need and as an NDIS provider, the Kids Steps Team is well placed to support these families and it is encouraging to see non-Aboriginal businesses starting to recognise the need to modify practice in order to be culturally safe for our mob.
The team lead by Nathenya Fall, refer to their clients as friends. As a mum with a kid who has done his fair share of speech therapy, I love this approach. I know first-hand how important building a positive relationship between a child and their “speechie” is, so when Nathenya told me they were looking for opportunities to support their koori friends as best they could, I felt a rush of gratitude and excitement. The support we give kids in early years plays a huge role in shaping future outcomes for them. Having a private service that understands the importance of a culturally inclusive environment for Aboriginal people is amazing and the fact that they are willing to ask for help, acknowledging that Aboriginal people are best placed to provide advice on solutions to support our communities, is worth shouting about.
All of our cultural awareness sessions have been tailored to meet the needs of the participants and our facilitators were able to support the Kids Steps Team with a number of strategies they could introduce into their offerings that would help Aboriginal families to feel comfortable at the service. The Kids Steps Team were very keen to know how they could be more involved in the Aboriginal community so we spoke about opportunities to participate in events, community meetings and inter-agency events to connect with community outside of the Kids Steps offices. This conversation provided the Team with both the knowledge about where to connect with community as well as the confidence to join these events knowing that they were welcome. The respectful approach that Kids Steps has to working with our kids is amazing and the local community are blessed to have such a great service available. If only all small businesses were so welcoming of our mob!
Another session that really stands out for me this year is our visit to the Tempe OOSH. The team, led by Helen Pentecost, is very highly regarded by the community they service. Kids love attending and we all know how important it is knowing that our kids are safe and happy when we can’t be with them. We hadn’t had an OOSH contact us about training before and Helen’s approach is very refreshing and I hope an approach that is adopted by many OOSH providers.
Helen told me that she felt ‘Training staff in cultural competency to understand the unique history of Australia’s First Nations people provides not only enormous benefit in terms of helping them offer sensitive and appropriate care for children from Aboriginal, Torres Strait and other diverse backgrounds, but it helps everyone at our centre by deepening our connection to and understanding of the custodians of our land.’ She said ‘I believe the recognition of the vast and rich cultural heritage of Aboriginal people is a vital underpinning of all education in Australians, and helps us create safe and appropriate learning spaces for all children, of any background. For us, there was no question that this training was vital to our way of working, and how we see ourselves as educators’.
We talk a lot about creating culturally inclusive environments in schools so to have an OOSH embrace this and take steps to ensure their service is inclusive is all kinds of exciting. An approach which recognises that understanding Aboriginal people and our role as custodians of the land is important for all students and staff at the centre, for me really highlights Helen’s approach as best practice and I would love to see other OOSH providers work towards adopting this approach.
In modern society Christmas is celebrated in many different ways. For some it's a religious holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ, for others it's a holiday to celebrate with gifts. Whether for religious or cultural reasons, the common thread for all that celebrate Christmas across the globe is the coming together to spend time and celebrate with family and friends.
In traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture Christmas was not celebrated but coming together and celebrating as a mob was, and continues to be, an important aspect of culture. While held for varied reasons, these events helped in defining identity and a sense of connectedness to kinship and culture, strengthening the mob through feelings of spiritual and cultural belonging.
Traditional reason for coming together for ceremonies and gatherings included:
Welcome to Country: In traditional times an Aboriginal person would not travel between groups without permission. If permission was granted the mob accepting travellers would formally welcome their visitors with a welcome ceremony. This welcome would tell the spirits of the land that the traveller came in peace and asked them to protect the traveller while on the traditional lands.
Smoking Ceremony: Smoking ceremonies are traditionally a cleansing ceremony. Various native plants are collected and burned to produce smoke which is believed to have cleansing properties and the ability to ward off unwanted and bad spirits.
Corroborees: Corroborees are ceremonial meetings for mobs to interact with the Dreaming through singing, dancing, costume, and artistic expression.
Sorry Business: Sorry business refers to protocols around the death of an Aboriginal person. There are very intricate Dreaming ceremonies to help a spirit leave the earth after death. Traditionally the ceremonies around death varied between clans. How the body was prepared and farewelled was significant to ensuring the spirit made safe passage back to the Dreaming.
Trade: Traditionally trading was a time for sharing ideas, technology and culture, it was a time to catch up with other mobs for both business and leisure.
Download our free "Ceremonies and Gatherings" find-a-word PDF for your class to see what other ways Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people traditionally came together in celebration.
You can also explore this topic in more depth with the following lessons found on Wingaru Kids:
The benefits of cultural awareness training for workplaces are often spoken about. We talk about the role that cultural awareness training has in improving workplace culture; in improving both internal and external workplace communications; and in better servicing Aboriginal clients.
But we don’t often talk about the effects that extend beyond the workplace.
Reading social media these days is hard. Everyone has an opinion about everything, and people seem much more comfortable expressing racism from the safety of the impersonal internet. Just in the last few days, I've read comments online saying a young man in a remote Northern Territory community deserved to be shot to death by police, and how it was ‘totally wrong’ to close the Uluru climb because ‘it never hurt the rock’ and ‘the Aboriginals are lying about cultural significance’. Today, I read a post that could have been from 100 years ago: a man advertised that he and his wife ‘would like to help fire victims and have a spare room if you need it … no blacks or immigrants’. This is all on top of the everyday deluge of comments rife with racial hate and myths about Aboriginal people that are perpetuated by print and social media.
Fear of the unknown and a lack of education are the primary reason these types of posts are so prevalent. Often, keyboard warriors make these alarming statements because they've never had an opportunity to learn about Aboriginal culture—they know no alternative to the myths and ignorance they enthusiastically spout. I've been delivering Aboriginal cultural awareness training for many, many years and I've found that most people become much more accepting of Aboriginal people and culture and open to Reconciliation, when they learn the story of the Aboriginal peoples, and how we got to where we are today.
Many participants have never heard about Australia’s history with Aboriginal people from an Aboriginal perspective. Cultural awareness training is the first time they've heard the stories of people from the Stolen Generation, or of families forced to live on missions, with no control over any aspect of their lives. ‘Why weren’t we taught this in school?’ is a common response when we talk about past government policies, about the denial of Aboriginal people’s rights to practice culture and the way they were treated by non-Aboriginal people—about how in the past racism was so systematic, and how in many ways it continues to be.
Cultural awareness training in the workplace can support people to take a stand against the culturally insensitive—or downright racist—posts that are put out into the world every day. It arms people with the knowledge to see through misinformation, so that they don't help spread the myths that fuel hate against our First Nations. By giving people knowledge, training gives people the confidence to challenge the racist rhetoric we all seem to have become so complacent about.
Often employers don’t think they'll benefit from cultural awareness training for their staff because they don’t service Aboriginal people or have any Aboriginal staff. But consider the wider impact: training your staff not only increases their capacity, which strengthens your business, but also, in the case of cultural awareness training, can help protect your reputation. Often, misguided racist comments are made by employees on their workplace social media profile, and I watch as offended readers tag the employers asking them to take action, or demand others boycott them. It's something to consider: if making a positive social contribution is not reason enough to consider cultural awareness training for your workplace, then the potential PR implications if you don't might be.
One of the most common questions we get asked at Wingaru is how to engage the Aboriginal community in projects. Whether it be getting someone to consult on a project or participate in classroom activities, it is clear that people want to have the input of Aboriginal people. Where we can, we support people to make these connections and approach this in the right way - that is meaningful consultation where Aboriginal people have a real voice at all stages of the project and are treated respectfully including payment when appropriate. This is a topic that is written about often - Aunty Tricia talks about this issue in this months Ask Aunty and Wingaru's friend Nathan “Mudyi” Sentance, a Wiradjuri man from the Mowgee clan, has previously shared his view about it on his blog 'Archival Decolonist' (https://archivaldecolonist.com/). With Nathan's permission I have shared his post below and I encourage you to head over and check out the rest of his blog where he very generously shares his knowledge and perspectives about the importance of the inclusion of First Nation voices in the cultural and historical narratives conveyed by cultural and memory institutions and the need to balance the biases and misinterpretations of Aboriginal culture and people that has been previously set by these institutions.
Follow Nathan's work on social media:
Collaboration or Exploitation
“Indigenous folks, be cautious of people who want to “pick your brain” over coffee and lunch. There are people out there stealing ideas and boosting their careers for the price of a double double.” (Monkman, 2017, tweet)
People often seek my feedback, ask me questions or want my opinion on projects they are working on that relate to First Nations culture, history and/or people and I am happy to help if I can, but only if I feel their requests or projects are not exploitative. Here are some of my personal suggestions on how to ensure your projects or requests for input are less exploitative and more collaborative. Note: this mostly directed toward research projects or projects in the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) sector.
These are just a small number of suggestions I have to ensure your projects or requests for input are less exploitative and more collaborative.
By Nathan Sentance
DiAngelo, Robin. “White Fragility” International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, Vol 3, no.3, 2011, pp 54-70
Finch, Sam Dylan. “9 Phrases Allies Can Say When Called Out Instead of Getting Defensive” Everyday Feminism. 29 May. 2017, https://everydayfeminism.com/2017/05/allies-say-this-instead-defensive/
First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNICG). “Pathways to First Nations’ data and information sovereignty” Indigenous Data Sovereignty, Edited by Tahu Kukutai and John Taylor, ANU publishing, 2016, pp. 137-156.
Justice, Daniel Heath. “All mouth and no ears: Settlers with Opinions” The Conversation, 20 Sep. 2017.
Monkman, Lenard (lenardmonkman1). “Indigenous folks,
Be cautious of people who want to “pick your brain” over coffee and lunch. There are people out there stealing ideas and boosting their careers for the price of a double double.” 4 Dec. 2017, 7:53 AM. Tweet.
Moreton-Robinson, Aileen. “whiteness epistemology and Indigenous representation” Whitening Race: Essays in social and cultural criticism. Edited by Aileen Moreton-Robinson. Aboriginal Studies Press, 2004.
Sentance, Nathan. “Reframing community consultation” Archival Decolonist. 8 Sep. 2017 https://archivaldecolonist.com/2017/09/08/reframing-community-consultation/
Sentance, Nathan. “Maker unknown and the decentring First Nations People” Archival Decolonist. 21 Jul. 2017 https://archivaldecolonist.com/2017/07/21/maker-unknown-and-the-decentring-first-nations-people/
Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing Methodologies : Research and Indigenous Peoples. 2nd ed., Zed Books, 2012.
Watson, Irene. Looking at you looking at me — : an aboriginal history of the south-east. Volume 1. I. Watson Nairne, 2002
Like most western countries mainstream Australia has four distinct seasons, summer, autumn, winter and spring, with each of these beginning on a specific date marked on the calendar. But does this system accurately reflect the different weather experienced around the year in different parts of our vast and diverse country?
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities seasons are based on thousands of years of detailed observation of the surrounding environment. By studying the night sky and cycles of water, plants and animals communities were able to identify variations and accurately predict recurring seasonal changes. The seasons identified varied according to geographic location, ecological context and cultural interpretation. This knowledge of nature was recorded into stories, song, dance and ceremony and passed along to ensure sustainability for land and general well-being.
For the people of Dharawal Country, southwest of Sydney, there are six distinct seasons, Gadalung Marool (January-March), Banamurraiyung (April-June), Tugarah Tuli (June-July), Tugarah Gunyamarri (August), Murraiyunggory (September-October) and Goraymurrai (November-December). Each of these seasons is marked by changes to weather, plants and animals. This can be seen with Gadalung Marool, also known as the time of Burran, when male burra (kangaroos) become aggressive as the female burra start having babies.
To learn more about the different animal changes and weather patterns that signify seasons in the Dharawal calendar with your students download our Aboriginal Seasons Dharawal Language Group activity.
Wingaru Education believes that all children should have access to quality education about Aboriginal people and culture.