- October 13, 2017
On Thursday 12 October children, staff and families were thrilled to be joined by Anthony Albanese MP for a flag presentation ceremony.
Thank you to Anthony Albanese MP and the children, families and staff that joined us on our main lawn as we recognised Australia's history and discussed the development of The Infants' Home's Reconciliation Action Plan.
Gorton House preschool early childhood teacher, Nicky Roditis, gave a moving speech in which she spoke about the learning the children have been taking part in around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and the development of the song. An abridged version is included below.
Gorton House Pre-schoolers excitedly performed their 'Wangal Lang' song, in recognition of the traditional owners of the land on which The Infants' Home sits, the Wangal People. Children also made their own Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags for the occasion, as well as those of their home countries.
Mr Albanese then graciously presented our CEO Elizabeth Robinson with Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags for us to display, and children helped Mr Albanese carefully put these on flagpoles, ready to go into our reception area.
Nicky Roditis' Speech
"For the past 18 months in Gorton Pre-school, children and educators have been learning a little about Australia’s evolution as a country. Through this learning we have explored elements of the rich culture, stories and history of Australia’s first people. During this learning we have also explored how over the past 200+ years others have also come to call Australia home. We acknowledge that we are so lucky to live in such a rich, safe, diverse and beautiful country. We have also learnt that this came at tremendous loss for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people.
We have explored the cost of colonisation to the Aboriginal community. The losses they experienced in terms of their land, their culture, their language and stories. We have touched on past laws and practises that dismissed, discriminated against and undermined the connection Aboriginal people felt to their country, the significance of their language, their kinship groups and in tremendous ways, their very identity.
We can’t change the past, but hopefully through learning truthfully about errors of the past, through being informed of how the decisions we make can affect others deeply, we can work together to change the future. The impact of past practises and policies still deeply affects the lives of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today. That - together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we believe we CAN change.
Reconciliation Australia identifies Historical Acceptance as critical to achieving reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. It also identifies Unity – “An Australia that recognises and values Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage as a proud part of a shared national identity.”
This is what we are hoping to achieve in Gorton pre-school. Earlier this year, as these conversations amongst children and educators were occurring and flourishing, and we acknowledged the Wangal people, the people who lived on the very land on which The Infants' Home stands, we wanted to embed this acknowledgement of the land and its people into our everyday practice.
I asked some children in my group if they could help me write a song that would acknowledge Wangal land and the Wangal people. We talked about what we do on this land when we come to The Infants' Home, and as I wrote some of the words they were throwing at me very quickly, we just began to sing them…. suddenly we had a song of acknowledgement. That small group of children could barely wait to sing it to the rest of their educators and their peers. They were singing it all day that first day and, we were learning from families, singing it at home too - constantly!
This song isn’t just a song. It’s a significant acknowledgement of Australia’s first people, and in particular, the Wangal people on whose land we gather every day. It’s an important part of every single day. Our children have learnt, and some feel so strongly about the significance of acknowledgment that very often when a new visitor comes to pre-school, there are particular children who will come and whisper in my ear that these people may not know we are on Wangal land and that they really want to sit with them and Acknowledge Wangal land. They make me feel so proud of them!
Our children are very capable activists and advocates now.
I believe our children hold not only the present - but also the future in their hands for a socially just Australia."
- Nicky Roditis, Early Childhood Teacher at Gorton House Preschool
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