Avoca Preschool, a Y Kinder in the Pyrenees Shire, and located on Dja Dja Wurrung Country has been on a journey over the past two years to explore, understand and incorporate Indigenous perspectives into their early education service.
While their voyage of learning is far from over, they found that the process of discovery has brought them closer to their community and a deeper understanding about caring for the land, animals and people.
The journey commenced with the aim to embed an Acknowledgement of Country into their program so that it had real meaning. Initial steps on the path involved identifying a totem native animal and plant for their kindergarten, which were felt to have lasting significance and a link to the centre.
Wai-kalk Time, one of the 6 Dja Dja Wurrung seasons, inspired them to choose wattle trees as their plant totem. Observing and learning about the trees has extended to caring for young wattle saplings in the vicinity of the kinder and at their “River Kinder” location.
Observing a regular feathered visitor to their yard, led them to select the kookaburra as their animal totem and also to add in a commitment to their Acknowledgment of Country, to look after not only kookaburras, but all native animals.
The Preschool’s next step was to ensure that the Acknowledgment of Country had the right place and space in the program, which had meaning. It was felt that this had to occur outside, where the children could see, hear and feel the land and natural environment.
The activities have attracted wider interest and gained momentum beyond the kindergarten, with families contributing items for a newly created space in the playground.
With added knowledge and appreciation of not only their totems, but seasons, Culture and the land, an Acknowledgement of Country now takes place every Monday morning in Avoca Preschool’s special place named after their animal totem – Kookaburra Corner.