Calls for childcare centres to make kids more aware of Indigenous cultures

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Childcare centres and preschools are being urged to weave more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into their programs.

Aboriginal culture is embedded in the programs at Yappera Children's Service - from music and dance, puzzles and storytelling, through to craft and bush activities.

Over the last couple of years the Aboriginal childcare centre in Melbourne has been contacted by a growing number of non-Indigenous early childhood education services seeking guidance on how to become more inclusive.
 
"The tips that we give services is to make sure that the resources are authentic," CEO Stacey Brown told SBS News. 

"That they are using resources that may be from local artists."

Early childhood educators are being encouraged to use for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teaching resources.
Early childhood educators are being encouraged to use for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teaching resources.
SBS News

But the fear of "getting it wrong" is holding some educators back.

"We hear lots of times that educators are concerned that they are going to do the wrong thing," said Community Child Care Association executive director Julie Price.

"They do not want to be tokenistic, and they do not want to offend anyone."

"So sometimes that completely stops services from doing anything."

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) says those services are passing up a golden opportunity to foster respect for Indigenous people from an early age.

"What I have always said is it is better to do something than to do nothing," said SNAICC Deputy Chairwoman Geraldine Atkinson.

"So if you do not know anything, what you do is you learn."

Yappera Children's Service
Aboriginal perspectives are embedded in all the programs at Yappera Children's Service.
SBS

Educators are being urged to attend professional development courses on incorporating Indigenous perspectives, and consult local elders and organisations.

"It is leveraging the richness of Indigenous knowledge in a contemporary setting to grow this country, not to divide it," said Victorian Aboriginal Education Association vice president Mark Rose.

"If you are genuine, the community will work with you."

There are many ways for early childhood education services to acknowledge and celebrate Indigenous Australia.

That includes inviting Indigenous artists and performers in to hold workshops, marking Indigenous events such as Reconciliation Week, and playing Indigenous games.

Educator Melissa Lowndes sought the advice of Aboriginal organisations and elders when planning her programs.
Educator Melissa Lowndes sought the advice of Aboriginal organisations and elders when planning her programs.
SBS

At Windsor Community Children's Centre in Melbourne, children are slowly being exposed to Aboriginal culture.

The program is driven by a non-Indigenous educator, Melissa Lowndes.

"Do not be scared - just try," she said.

"And say to the children when they ask a question - or a parent asks me and I am not sure - I say 'that is a great question, let us explore this together'."

It is through such exploration that Aboriginal leaders say greater understanding and appreciation of the world's oldest living culture can be achieved.

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