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Aerial image of shark bay in WA, rich red, pink, blue and green swirls and colours.
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Now More Than Ever: Planning for Reconciliation Week 2024

Aerial image of Shark Bay, Western Australia. Malgana country. Photographer: Ignacio Palacios. Source: Getty Images. Used under licence.

Lake Surprise

Curriculum Writers

Curriculum Team

Callie Martin, Glen Hayres, and Steven Kolber.

The theme of Reconciliation Week 2024 is 'Now More Than Ever'. Ngarrngga, a Taungurung word meaning to know, to hear, to understand, advocates that now more than ever it is important for educators to be showcasing Indigenous Knowledge in their teaching and learning to promote reconciliation.

Reconciliation starts with knowledge.

To know - we must inform ourselves.

We must inform ourselves about the country on which our schools sit, and about the traditional owners of those lands. We must reflect on how we as individuals act and think. We must acknowledge that our ways of doing and knowing are not always those of other peoples and other cultures.

Reconciliation starts with listening.

To hear - we must be listeners.

We must listen to the voices of those who have called this land home for 65,000 years. We must welcome those voices in and let ourselves be transformed by that experience. There can be no knowing without listening.

Reconciliation starts with understanding.

To understand - we must gain knowledge.

We need to see the truth of our shared history and the pain it has caused. We must listen when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples tell us what they want, and they need. We must open ourselves to what a future of truth-telling, of listening and of knowing might look like.

Now more than ever - we must work for reconciliation.

In this blog article, educators are taken through ACARA’S FIRST Framework. Each of the steps are outlined to help guide schools to better work with local First Nations groups, and questions to reflect on as individuals and as a school.

Considerations for Connecting with local First Nations groups

As Reconciliation Week can often be a time where increased engagement between your school and local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander groups occurs, it’s important to consider the Australian Curriculum FIRST framework when thinking about undertaking this work. This Framework works as a guide for educators to work with the local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples to create an inclusive and culturally effective learning program.

The Framework is broken down by:

F = Find out about

The first step to find out about what is in the curriculum which your students to need to learn, how you can develop your current competency and understanding of local and national Indigenous issues, and what is the existing relationship with First Nations Peoples in your local area.

I = Indigenous knowledges and voices

Next, you should consider how to engage with local or other First Nations Peoples to listen to their knowledges and voices. This can involve engaging with local and other First Nations Peoples to understand Indigenous knowledges, customs and practices, and meeting in culturally safe places which may be outside the school.

R = Respectful partnerships

To develop respectful and reciprocal partnerships to produce and deliver high-quality teaching and learning plans, you need to consider evaluating existing policies and procedures, allowing for sufficient the time and effort required to build these relationships, and be mindful of when First Nations Peoples wish to not share information due to cultural and/or personal reasons.

S = Supporting student learning

In order to support student learning, considerations need to be made on how to engage students and develop activities to gather evidence of learning and give feedback to progress learning. This may involve creating a culturally safe learning environment for First Nations students, sharing the learning intentions with students, and making adjustments when appropriate.

T = Time

Adequate time is needed to develop effective partnerships with First Nations Peoples so be mindful of unrealistic expectations when working with local communities, allowing sufficient time for learning plans to be incorporated into the curriculum content, and understand that it takes time to develop these skills and confidence.

You can find the full FIRST Framework here.

Reflection questions for teachers and schools

Planning for important weeks in the school calendar like Reconciliation Week can involve more than finding related resources and putting together lesson plans, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the week from a pedagogical and personal perspective.

Individual

Questions to reflect on as an individual educator, leader, or curious adult.

  • How does my teaching practice promote understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories?

  • What steps can I take to ensure my classroom is a culturally safe and inclusive space for all students?

  • How do I respond to and challenge stereotypes or misconceptions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples among my students, colleagues, family and friends?

  • What actions can I take to continuously improve my knowledge and understanding of the issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities?

Whole school

Questions to reflect on as a whole school community.

  • What specific commitments can our school make to support reconciliation efforts, and how can we hold ourselves accountable?

  • In what ways can we evaluate the impact of our reconciliation initiatives, and how can we ensure these initiatives are meaningful and effective?

  • How can we actively involve students in learning about and contributing to reconciliation efforts?

~

Promoting reconciliation through education is our professional responsibility as educators. We are at a precipice in education whereby future generations and Australian citizens can learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, cultures, histories and languages.

By working together, walking side by side, the time for change is now more than ever!

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