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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 51
Author: Gloria Lalor-Mundine Aboriginal Community Co-ordinator Mary Scales Community Program Leader Gowrie SA Firstly, we would like to acknowledge that the land where Gowrie SA is situated is the land of the Kaurna people, and we acknowledge and recognise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the First Nation Peoples of Australia, and that they are the traditional owners and custodians of the land and waterways throughout our country. We pay our respect to Elders past, present and future. At Gowrie SA we had been attempting, over many years, to make our service a culturally safe, relevant and welcoming place for Aboriginal children, families and staff, but we had not done this in a planned or connected way. There was a great deal of uncertainty about how to do this authentically and we were also very mindful of 'getting it wrong'. On February 13th 2008, our staff heard the apology read by Kevin Rudd and, for us, this was a turning point. We knew we had a responsibility to further the spirit of the Australian Government's apology, and this apology ignited our passion and commitment to taking action. We knew we needed to take responsibility for our part. We also knew we had much to learn. We had an Aboriginal family who was using our service. The child's attendance was sporadic and the educators were not following up on 'why'. When we did call and touch base with the family, we learned that the mother was concerned that her child was getting paint on his/her clothes. Initially, this was dismissed, as it seemed unimportant when compared to our philosophy of learning through play and experience, with the expectation that during the course of play and exploration children will, at times, get dirty. However on reflection, our group of educators realised that this was not a satisfactory response, and we took time to 'walk in the shoes' of this mother, and consider why this was a problem. What would it be like for this mother to be walking in the community with her child looking dirty? What did it feel like for this mother to be unheard? What history did this mum carry with her that influenced the way she felt? We knew we had to make the experience of our service better, for this and other Aboriginal families, and that we needed to learn more about the history and experiences of our First Nation Peoples. Taking Responsibility for Reconciliation 4
Reflections Magazine Issue 52