Spotlight On – Wiradjuri Preschool and Child Care Centre
Located at the University of Canberra, Wiradjuri Preschool and Child Care Centre is a leader in education. In 2014 the preschool received an ‘Excellent’ rating, the highest rating a service can achieve under the Australian Children’s Education and are Quality Authority (ACECQA) National Quality Framework. One of the reasons Wiradjuri received this rating was because of its ongoing commitment to delivering a curriculum that incorporates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.
Reconciliation has been a core value of the preschool for decades says Carmel Richardson, Educational Leader of Wiradjuri Preschool. “We have had a long time philosophy of inclusion and diversity informed by social justice principals and a strong commitment to reconciliation for many years,” says Carmel.
The recent development of Wiradjuri’s RAP was a simple but important step to formalise actions the centre was already taking. Now complete, the RAP is a useful tool to induct staff and share Wiradjuri’s commitment to reconciliation with families and the community. Although the Narragunnawali program, including the RAP Developer, is primarily designed for implementation by educators, Carmel says that children at her preschool are heavily engaged in the reconciliation process.
“The children are involved in reconciliation because of the work we do with them on a day to day process. They are definitely part of the RAP because our primary focus is the education of young children. Each and every day we acknowledge Country with the children.”
The ACECQA standards that often challenge early learning services are those relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content; not because of a lack of willingness but because educators are fearful of getting it wrong. But using the Narragunnawali RAP Developer alleviates some of this anxiety, says Carmel, and moves us towards reconciliation in a practical way. “I think if we really want to move towards an authentic reconciliation sometime in the future we have got to do this work now,” Carmel asserts.