Equity and social justice—acknowledging First Nations cultures at SDN Bluebell

We acknowledge, honour and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the first peoples of Australia, and learn about their rich cultures, countries and histories.

SDN Bluebell sits on Ngunnawal Country, in the Belconnen area of the ACT. The Centre’s Reconciliation Action Plan guides the way educators engage children in learning about First Nations cultures and histories.   

The preschool children are used to acknowledging Country, and know they gather on Ngunnawal land, the place of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples. The foundation for this learning begins when the children enter the Centre as infants. Now older, preschoolers participate in enquiry-based learning – the daily ritual of acknowledging Country is built upon with explicit teaching about stolen land.

Beginning with the question ‘What is Country?’, educators hosted group-time discussions with the children, scribing ideas and questions. They soon studied their map of Indigenous Australia. Looking at all the lands across Australia and finding Ngunnawal helped the children to realise there are many lands – Country – across Australia.

So what exactly is an Acknowledgement of Country, and why should we have one each day at Bluebell?  

The team arranged viewings of the Playschool episodes ‘Yarning and Dreaming’ and the ‘Acknowledgement of Country Special’.

Filled with stories, song, dance and creative projects, the episodes inspire an appreciation of First Nations cultures across Australia.

The children listened to the book ‘Somebody’s Land’ by Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing, which introduces the concept of terra nullius, or land belonging to no one. Knowing how long the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples have been on Ngunnawal land, and that nobody gave it away, the children knew terra nullius couldn’t be true - the land was taken. They began to realise why it’s important to acknowledge Country.

Centre Director Tara explains that teaching and learning about First Nations cultures shouldn’t be something that only comes around on special occasions. At SDN Bluebell it happens every day through the Reconciliation Action Plan, and through enquiry-based learning about Ngunnawal Country from Ngunnawal Elders and community members. 

“We think about how we can do something to be respectful and actually influence improved outcomes. We don’t want to just teach about the injustices that have and do happen, but do something that contributes to countering it. So we teach and model respect.”  

The Bluebell preschoolers have written their own Acknowledgement of Country. They decided to end it with the word ‘Narragunnawali’ which is from the Ngunnawal language and means “alive, wellbeing, coming together, and peace.” They say it aloud each day and practice the actions. Being so engaged in the research and development of the ritual has given children ownership, and they’re proud to take their learning out to the families and communities.

To learn more about our preschool program and curriculum pillars, visit this page here.

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