At YWCA Canberra, we value the importance of diversity and fostering strong relationships with our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We find it especially important to incorporate these values into our children’s services to help to raise cultural awareness and to teach children about the importance of reconciliation.
This week, on Monday 4 August we had the opportunity to celebrate National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Children’s Day across our children’s services. This year’s theme, ‘We are the elders of tomorrow, hear our voice’, was explored through activities of song, dance and art, where the children were encouraged to learn about the various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practices and traditions. Here is what happened across just a few of our services:
Starting the day off with an Acknowledgement of Country, our children’s services in Currawong, engaged in a fun-filled day of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inspired activities. For their first activity, the children were invited to create symbolic artworks made from their own handprints using the Aboriginal flag colours of red, yellow and black. Throughout the day, the children were also introduced to a range of different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island traditions and rituals, where children were encouraged to learn about the significance and history of each practice.
At our Winyu service, our educators engaged the children in a range of fun Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander theme games, followed by activities of song and dance. In the afternoon, the children were able to get hands on and be creative by painting different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patterns and symbols and learning about the symbolism behind each image.
At our Spence children’s service, the morning was spent talking about the meaning and significance of the Acknowledgement of Country. During this session, the children learned about the importance of acknowledging the traditional owners of the land and paying respect to the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people.
Following this discussion, the children were then invited to engage in a range of activities from listening to dream time stories, singing songs in an Aboriginal language, and playing with traditional Aboriginal instruments such as tapping sticks. During arts and crafts, the children painted dot paintings on boomerangs using the traditional colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.
At our Fairley service, children enjoyed a cheerful morning of listening to different stories and songs written by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors and musicians such as Emily Wurramara. Once the children had settled, they were invited to engage in a service activity where they got to watch Tony Thornes’ Aboriginal inspired children’s program, Little J and Big Cuz.
In the afternoon, the children listened to Thomas Mayor’s “Finding the Heart of the Nation”, where they were able to discuss feelings of loss, especially in response to something being taken away from them. This opened the conversation up to themes of colonisation and discrimination, and why it is important to treat others fairly and with respect.
To help the children explore Aboriginal symbolism and art, our educators invited the children to explore the colours associated with Aboriginal culture, by painting on a perspex easel using colours of red, yellow and black.