By CELA on 8 Oct, 2018

Last month we shared learning specialist Kerrie Maguire’s expertise in developing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Your responses made it clear that creating a RAP is a high priority for you and frequently linked to your Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) goals.

There’s nothing educators value more than learning from their colleagues’ experiences. We’re very fortunate that Lavinia Jenkin-Panelli, director, and Marieke Lutterberg: educational leader, from Tyabb Village Children’s Centre, are willing to share every aspect of their RAP journey.

In fact, Lavinia and Marieke are preparing a book about the journey to share at their community-centred service. They have combined elements from their writing with additional responses to our questions for Amplify.

Their generosity means we can bring you their journey as a four-part series.  If you miss one, don’t worry, just click on the ‘RAP journey series’ tag in any article to find the rest. Look for back links and related stories at the end of this article, too.

Now we join Lavinia and Marieke on this final part of their story (for now) of the Tyabb Village reconciliation journey. This week they share the their answers to some of the biggest questions educators have about creating a RAP, and blast some myths and misconceptions along the way.

Every step you take towards creating a more culturally safe and inclusive environment breaks down the barriers and sends the right messages. Have a go!

Why isn’t everyone creating a RAP?

Educators are nervous about getting it wrong.

They don’t want to appear tokenistic and don’t know what to do, so instead, sometimes, they do nothing.

They have legitimate questions and concerns: do we have the right to seek answers? What is disrespectful? What is sacred?

Every step you take towards creating a more culturally safe and inclusive environment breaks down the barriers and sends the right messages. Have a go!

Really think about what you are trying to achieve with the experiences you offer. If you are using Aboriginal storybooks or a piece of art as inspiration, teach the children about where the story or art comes from and show children on the language map where that is.

Be careful to put meaning to things. You don’t know the background, and cultural significance until you do your research. Ask for help if you are unsure!

It is not our role to teach Aboriginal children their culture, that role is for their community. What we can do is  teach respect and understanding. We can address gaps in knowledge, and we can teach what we have been given permission to speak on by our local Aboriginal elder or community.

Always acknowledge that advice, support and permission, wherever or whenever you can

How long does it take to create the plan?

It’s ongoing.

The process will never really be completed because understanding reconciliation is a journey with no end.

The journey requires us to build connections, intersections and bridges. We have to create places to share and learn, and we have to document and draw our map to get there. When this is done, then new side roads will appear! We might ‘go to sea’ for a bit and float, and then return with new ideas and new ways to step forward on the path.

How are you partnering the community and parents to make it a great plan?

We prioritise and maintain strong connections with our local Aboriginal community.

We form new partnerships through collaborative projects such as the one we have just completed with Living Culture and embark on new ones, such as the Possum Skin Pedagogy Project.

We invite our families and friends to join us and participate in national events and fundraisers.

We share our information with families via an online platform called StoryPark and with each other through our staff Facebook group. We use posters to promote awareness, and we hold regular events such as our annual birthday celebration or the children’s own night market.

This year Living Culture opened our birthday celebrations. Lionel welcomed us and held a Smoking Ceremony to cleans the land on which we stand. The children sang their meeting song and the staff read their Acknowledgement to Country. Most of our families and their extended families attended this special event and we could talk or highlight our plan for Reconciliation at the Village.

The project with Living Culture may be complete, but in an ongoing way we continue to raise awareness of the value we place on reconciliation at the Village in our conversations, our actions, our displays, our programs and our documentation.

What does a robust RAP look like to you?

It looks ongoing and connected to culture.

It invites others to participate and it draws them in to share knowledge and ideas.

It is supported by our service philosophy and policy and is embedded in our everyday practice.

It is not a document to be questioned and challenged, but is a document which promotes reflection, celebration and ongoing improvement.

How is the plan a live document in your service?

It’s still a work in progress, all of our educators have access to the RAP and are invited to contribute where they can.

But where are we now along our journey?

  • Educators have adopted change: culturally inclusive programs and environments are embedded in everyday practice
  • The Aboriginal 8 Ways of Learning is our preferred curriculum and is displayed for families and other professionals who access the Village
  • The educational program provides stimulating and inviting natural outdoor spaces
  • Our philosophy is currently under review to clearly demonstrate our commitment
  • Our employment processes are under review to link to the philosophy and the RAP so we can ensure we maintain a healthy and safe culture within the Village community
  • Our celebrations open with our own Acknowledgement to Country
  • Our children sing their meeting song when they come together in a group, and we have heard them also sing it spontaneously when they initiate a small group in their play
  • Together we have written a song line about our community maps/walks
  • Our Bush Kinder program is successful
  • We attend the local Aboriginal community centre regularly for a variety of reasons
  • We are present at key events such as the recent NAIDOC March
  • We celebrate Aboriginal Children’s Day

What are your service’s ‘go to’ resources for creating your RAP?

The story so far

Other related articles

About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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