Creating Culturally Safe and Inclusive Environments in Local Childhood Services

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Aboriginal Culture is the oldest living culture in the world, dating back over 80,000 years however many people may be uncomfortable or lack confidence in their knowledge or delivery of education around Aboriginal Culture.

In an effort to support local childhood services and schools to create environments that are empowering for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, our Health Promotion Team has been working with local teams through an educational journey to make their services culturally safe and inclusive.

There are approximately 1320 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living within the Knox and Maroondah areas (2016 Census).  Communicating the importance of identity and cultural safety within an inclusive environment, plays a major role in closing the gap of health and wellbeing outcomes for Indigenous children and their families.

In 2017, early childhood services and schools in these areas were invited to apply for the Aboriginal Small Grants Project. The grants ranged from $500 to $1000, providing an opportunity to start or build on work around cultural inclusion in various formats.

Educators, teachers and professional staff play a vital role in helping children to break down stereotypes and develop an understanding of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage.

To date, 42 Early Childhood Services, 18 primary schools and 3 high schools across Knox and Maroondah have received a grant to enhance their physical environment or run a cultural activity, creating a total estimated reach of 9966 students across the community.

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Services and schools also received one-on-one support from EACH Aboriginal Health Promotion Officer – Vanessa Murdoch, who supported them to:

  • develop a bush tucker garden
  • invite an Aboriginal Elder to speak about Aboriginal culture
  • engage students to create an art mural that reflects the relationship of Aboriginal people with the land and environment
  • build awareness of Aboriginal Culture using books, posters, toys, and audio/visual material
  • take children and students on cultural learning excursions
  • develop and implement a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)
  • link to local Aboriginal Community Services.

An evaluation of the Project will be undertaken to review if there has been an increase in student and community awareness, as well as an understanding of the rich cultural history of the local Wurundjeri people of this region.

View the Aboriginal Small Grants Project Stories/Report

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The Team also actively supports a number of services and schools to implement the Victorian Government’s Achievement Program, an evidence based framework, based on the World Health Organisations ‘Health Promoting School’ model to successfully embed health and wellbeing into everyday service/school culture.

Services and schools who are currently working on Safe Environments  as part of the Achievement Program and were successful in obtaining a grant are incorporating this work into their action plans to further assist them in reaching state-wide benchmarks for this health priority area.

For further information about the Aboriginal Small Grants Project or Achievement Program please contact Vanessa Murdoch (Aboriginal Health Promotion Officer) on (03) 9757 6254 or Catherine Delaney (Health Promotion Officer) on (03) 97576278.

Learn more about our Health Promotion Team HERE.