Tigger’s Honeypot (one of the four Early Years services at the University of New South Wales) sits on the land of the Bidjigal people. Every day we strive to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in our curriculum. In recognition of NAIDOC Week 2017, the children and educators engaged in the annual events at UNSW as well as intentional centre experiences with a focus on languages.
In the lead up to NAIDOC Week, small groups from the Jarjums (Dharug word meaning ‘children’) and Narra (Dharug word meaning ‘listen, hear, think’) rooms went on an excursion to a local shopping centre to view artwork and watch a performance by students from a local public school. They sang Torres Strait Islands songs ‘Taba Naba’ and ‘Inanay Capuana’. We plan on taking part in the event during NAIDOC Week next year possibly displaying artwork created by the children at Tigger’s Honeypot. The Jarjums and Narra kicked off the week on Monday with a visit from Brett “Billyara”, a Wiradjuri man who has been collaborating with us since 2015. We had a yarn about meeting places and artefacts, and Brett demonstrated symbols and art techniques. The children then had the opportunity to practice the skills they had observed, using Brett’s resources and receiving guidance from him. Later that day children from the Jarjums, Narra and Billabong (Dharug word meaning ‘river water or pool’) attended the NAIDOC flag-raising ceremony at UNSW, where we heard about the importance of languages for Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians alike.
On Wednesday I shared the series of videos posted with the ABC News web article ‘Learn words in Indigenous Australian languages with four young speakers’ by Daniel Browning with a small group of Jarjums. Before viewing I shared with the children each speaker’s name, language and location. They watched with deep concentration, repeating every Indigenous word they heard. The children were especially interested to learn the Gadigal words from “where we live… in Sydney!”
UNSW’s Nura Gili (Indigenous Programs Unit) offers an annual Winter School program for Indigenous students in high school around Australia, introducing them to opportunities available after school. Included in this program is a 2 hour visit to us at Tigger’s Honeypot where the students can observe and interact with the children, families and educators. To conclude the Winter School visit the Jarjums invited the students to a yarning circle, which the children opened with an Acknowledgement of Country, followed with a yarn about our mobs and the highlights of our morning together. We offered the students gifts of beaded necklaces that some of the children had created during the week. That afternoon the Jarjums gathered to watch and listen to Aboriginal author, Boori Monty Pryor, read his book ‘Shake a Leg’ via the Story Box Library website. The children noticed the 3 different languages spoken within the book, and also recognised the Aboriginal instruments and traditions (such as painting with ochre).