No matter where you are in Australia, and no matter whether you and your family have been in Australia for five minutes, five years, five decades or across multiple generations, what unites us all is that we are all standing on Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Land. Recent scientific findings suggest that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have lived sustainably with the Land for more than 120,000 years, and the continued imperative to care for Country/place is part of our shared history and needs to be learned and understood more broadly.
In addition to acknowledging Country, and being welcomed to Country, it is important for all members of educational communities to develop meaningful connections with, and to care for, the Country/place on which their school or early learning service stands.
As a starting place, opportunities should be afforded to all students to reflect on, and develop, their personal sense of connection to the skies, waterways and lands on which they live and learn. While fostering such opportunities, schools and early learning services should also focus on developing understanding and respect for the deep, longstanding and continually important connections between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Country/place. The relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Country/place is considered sacred, and is simultaneously interconnected with identity, family/kinship, traditions, languages, cultures, and physical, spiritual and socio-emotional wellbeing. By appropriately drawing on local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content and perspectives pertaining to sciences, geography and sustainability, as well as to local sites, plants and animals of significance, schools and early learning services will learn the importance of caring for Country/place first-hand, and in culturally appropriate and meaningful ways for each respective area in which a school or early learning centre sits. By building awareness of the impact humans have on the environment, students, children and families learn how to play a role in positively living with, rather than imposing on, the Land.
It is important to collaborate with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when considering learning about the local environment and planning initiatives such as excursions/incursions or reconciliation gardens that feature local native plants.