Connection to Country Challenge
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RAP Implementation Committee Update 7/11/19
I was fortunate to attend the 2-day Reconciliation Australia 2019 National RAP Conference Walking Together, Working Together which was recently held on Whadjuk Noongar booja. The conference was a co-collaboration with Curtin University and RAC.
Day one was opened by Professor Simon Forrest, Curtin University's Elder in Residence who delivered a powerful welcome to country, setting the scene for discussing critical issues facing the reconciliation movement as well as celebrating the transcending positive social and corporate change across Australia.
This was followed by a number of key note addresses from Curtin University’s Vice Chancellor Deborah Terry, Honourable Fred Chaney, Glen Kelly of Reconciliation Australia and Narelda Jacobs Network Ten journalist. Key messages delivered through the addresses focused on:
- a need to focus on ‘strengths’ not deficits in the community
- increasing cultural awareness to support cultural safety
- truth telling – hard to tell, difficult to hear but need to acknowledge and create safe places to tell and listen
- the need for organisations to improve from performative to substantive based outputs, ultimately shifting from transactional to transformational based actions
- meaningful and enriching reconciliation is about visibility
- committing to genuine lasting change
- creating a place of commitment & partnership.
A number of approaches and examples to reconciliation were highlighted over the 2-day conference providing various opportunities to be part of the reconciliation movement. These included:
- Place-based approaches to reconciliation are key to the appropriate recognition of culture and country through the built and natural environment. We all need to become more conscious of our presence in a place.
- Social education begins at home and needs to extend into the learning environments and institutions to ensure a ‘generation of change’. We need to support cultural immersion through blended learning approaches and encourage social justice through positive cultural safety practises within our educational organisations.
- Embed cultural responsiveness into our everyday practice and make sure our reconciliation targets don’t encourage or facilitate poor behaviour. Understand the framework of the community prior to engaging and create an inclusive platform for discussion. Before embarking on a journey understand and acknowledge the past culture and histories. Consider joining with other local organisations to minimise the drain on local Traditional Owners and communities. Develop consistent and ongoing relationships and embrace new leadership within communities to assist in ‘committee fatigue’.
- Understand that there is a constant evolution to Aboriginal philosophy through historical acceptance, new ceremonies and songs and approaches to situations of trauma and change.
- We all need to engage in our sphere of influence to proactively build social capital through celebrations that are cognisant of the truth telling and justice.
In closing, Karen Mundine, CEO of Reconciliation Australia delivered a powerful message for large and small organisations to continue their commitment to reconciliation. The number of organisations working under RAP programs is rapidly increasing, this is setting the standard for institutional integrity in the political, business and community domains. She cautioned Reconciliation Action Plans will challenge their respective industries and real change, takes time, but collectively we will all play a crucial role in national reconciliation. She reminded us indigenous people have an intrinsic connection to the country we live and work on, and by increasing our understanding, knowledge and respect for this dynamic culture will have vast mutual benefits for our national identity.
As part of my cultural awareness journey, I wanted to share with you some amazing links to opportunities for furthering your cultural learning and enrichment:
- Bruce Pascoe | A conversation about Ingenuity
- BUŊGUL A buŋgul is a ceremony, a meeting place of dance, song and ritual.
AILA WA RAP Implementation Committee
RAP Implementation Committee Update 15/10/19
Recently I was fortunate enough to visit and engage with the most amazing community in Kununurra and I wanted to share how this school community integrates country and culture into their curriculum. I was really interested in their approach as I have two primary school aged children myself.
The purpose for visiting Kununurra was for a nature-based master plan for the local catholic primary school, St Joseph’s. The school is part of Miriwoong country. St Joseph’s has a 60% aboriginal student demographic with a total of 120 students altogether from Kindy to Year 6. With such a high percentage of indigenous students the school has embraced the Miriwoong Language Centre’s vision:
“Together, we come to the place to keep Miriwoong alive by capturing, sharing and nurturing our language and culture. Together, we build a strong, proud and respectful community where our people have a sense of who they are and the land to which they belong.” (http://mirima.org.au/)
The curriculum includes the integration of the Miriwoong Language Nest program, which creates an immersive environment which exposes young children to new language experiences. The program is based on a model developed by the Maori in New Zealand, the Miriwoong Language Nest is one of the first to operate for Indigenous languages in Australia. It uses immersion techniques to enable young children to learn Miriwoong.
Through the St Joseph’s engagement process for the nature-based master plan a number of additional educational programs associated with the Miriwoong Language Centre and Waringarri Art’s Centre were identified by key members of the Miriwoong community including a seed collection and bush tucker garden, junior ranger programs and collaborative art programs with students.
The combination of the language nest program and the potential new programs will create the most amazing integration of culture and country within the school environment. This whole process has inspired me to find better ways for my local primary schoolto embed culture and country into their curriculum.
RAP Implementation Committee Update 11/09/19
Today marks the release of the AILA protocol for Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country document. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to not only implore you to read the 3 page document but give you some additional information and resources relevant to those of us that live on Whadjuk Noongar boodja.
What is the difference between a Welcome to Country and an Acknowledgement of Country?
A Welcome to Country is undertaken by an Elder or Traditional Owner with permission to represent the Traditional Custodians. As opposed to an Acknowledgment of Country which is undertaken by anyone else. Both Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country must always occur at the start of a formal event or meeting, to pay respect and create an increasing awareness and recognition of Traditional Custodians and culture. For additional information on Noongar Welcome to Country Protocols refer to the document by SWALSC.
These protocols are something that Perth residents should be proud of. With Australia’s assumed first contemporary Welcome to Country performed in Perth in 1976 by Richard Walley OAM and Ernie Dingo. Read more here.
After reading the AILA protocol, we hope you consider starting your meetings with an Acknowledgment of Country. Or add to your email signature or integrate into written publications.
RAP Implementation Committee Update 14/08/19
How great was it to see all the amazing AILA WA projects displayed across the many Aboriginal countries at the recent AILA WA awards?! It is certainly good to have a visual reminder of the many Aboriginal nations we work across in our profession. Having our awards, and a majority of our work on the lands of the Wadjuk people it was wonderful that we had Karen Jacobs, Wadjuk Traditional Owner, Welcome us to Country. Hearing her speak about her experience running a landscape business as an Aboriginal women in WA was one of the highlights of the night.
The RAP team are continuing to implement our WA actions beyond the awards and Naidoc week. We have reached out to most WA firms to seek input on where you stand with your own RAP or how your business may work with the AILA RAP to continue to build positive relationships between Indigenous people and the landscape architecture profession. We will continue to touch base with individual companies to strengthen opportunities to implement the RAP, however if you would like to hear from us sooner, or get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive our recent minutes and an invite to our next meeting.
RAP Committee Update - 17/07/19
Hope you all managed to get along to some NAIDOC events last week, but what other opportunities are there to engage with Aboriginal culture the rest of the year?
- The Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre (WACC) in Fremantle run classes and courses all year round themed by the Noongar seasons, Makuru, Djilba, Kambarang, Birak, Bunuru and Djeran.These include Noongar storytelling, art workshops and language classes.https://www.facebook.com/Walyalup/
- Curtin University offers a Noongar Language and Culture course online.This comes highly recommended from RAP committee member Tilly Caddy! https://www.edx.org/course/noongar-language-and-culture-0
- The Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council (WAITOC) is a great resource for finding tours and other Aboriginal programs and businesses.https://waitoc.com/
- Read ‘Dark Emu. Black seeds: agriculture or accident’ by Bruce Pascoe.Or read the kids in your life ‘Young Dark Emu’.Pascoe challenges the colonial myth of the hunter gatherer and takes an in depth look at Aboriginal land management practices.
- Attend Social Impact Festival 2019:Danjoo Koorliny Walking Together Towards a Just and Sustainable Society.Held this week at UWA and for the first time has been designed and led by Aboriginal leaders.https://socialimpactfestival.org/
- Read this great article by National NAIDOC committee member Shannan Dodson ‘8 Things You Can Do Right Now to Be a Better Indigenous Ally. https://10daily.com.au/views/a190712rkzuj/8-things-you-can-do-right-now-to-be-a-better-indigenous-ally-20190712
The RAP implementation committee and AILA WA are working towards offering more cultural CPD events for members throughout the year, so watch this space! If you know of a great resource or event you think members would be interested in, let us know.
AILA WA RAP Implementation Committee