Winter 2019

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The Community Issue

The value of strong connections

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Narragunnawali
25 Jul 2019

Reconciliation in education

Australia is home to more than 250 distinct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations – diverse geo-cultural communities, each with their own traditional languages, customs and connections to Country/place. Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to identify with the unique groups that they have belonged to since time immemorial. Australia’s colonial history has caused displacement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from their Traditional Lands, as well as separation of families and communities. This has resulted in complex and varied definitions of community. According to The State of Reconciliation in Australia report (2016), building mutually trusting and respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the wider Australian community is integral to fostering a stronger future of reconciliation (the strengthening of relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, for the benefit of all Australians) across the nation. While the Australian Curriculum mandates that all Australian students learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and perspectives,there is limited guidance on how to build relationships with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Education, a Reconciliation Australia initiative, supports Australian schools and early learning services to develop environments that foster a higher level

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Angus Hikairo Macfarlane
25 Jul 2019

Engaging parents, whānau and hapori

It is widely acknowledged that engaging whānau and community in educational activities that support the learning of their children is mutually beneficial. It is also acknowledged that this is not always straightforward. Engaging parents, whānau and hapori (communities) can be complex given the range of dominant cultural perspectives frequently embedded within the educational conundrum. To make this partnership for learning possible, it is necessary to recognise that the system has a long history of not being open to working together with whānau and hapori as equal partners. Addressing this imbalance is a shared responsibility. We can gain insight by looking at other educational contexts that have successfully facilitated wider engagement. A recent overseas study1 explored how an Indigenous intervention programme delivered in British Columbia, Canada, was able to be authentically implemented in diverse communities. The study uncovered three notable themes to fostering the active engagement of family. The first theme, overcoming mistrust, involves understanding the history of the situation. It involves working hard to gain trust and reflecting on one’s own possible personal biases and privileges. The second theme, being willing to reach out and build relationships, is about nurturing relationships with cultural leaders in the community, offering choices and

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