Welcome to Country by Lynnice Church
Acknowledgment of Country
The Education Directorate acknowledges the Ngunnawal Peoples as the Traditional Custodians of the ACT and region upon which we live and work.
We pay respect to the United Ngunnawal Elders Council and to the Elders both past and present of the Ngunnawal Nation for they hold the hopes and dreams for the future of the ACT and surrounding region. We also acknowledge and pay respect to the Wreck Bay peoples as custodians of the land on which Jervis Bay School is located.
We value the diverse contributions that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues make to our Directorate.
ACT Public servants are encouraged to show respect for the Traditional Custodians, by offering an ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ where an event or meeting is taking place.
The purpose of an Acknowledgment of Country is to acknowledge the ongoing cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and to recognise their ongoing relationship with Land and Water.
Respect through the acknowledgment and recognition of the Traditional Custodians plays an important role in the reconciliation process.
An Acknowledgement of Country can be powerful where there is a connection and meaning to both the event or meeting taking place and the individual providing it.
Reconciliation Action Plan- Keeping it Alive 2016-2018
Our vision for Reconciliation is genuinely collaborative and fosters meaningful partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians based on respect, trust, relationships and opportunities.
This vision is underpinned by our firm belief that such partnerships benefit all Australians. We believe that Reconciliation is everybody’s business and that all staff have a role to play in the Directorate’s Reconciliation journey.
Reconciliation – Keeping it Alive is the theme of the third ACT Education Directorate Reconciliation Action Plan. The theme is significant as it indicates movement and action. The theme recognises Reconciliation within the Directorate pre-dates formal Reconciliation Action Plans; that individuals, sections, branches and division are engaged at many levels. The theme aims to continue to engage people in ongoing actions and conversations toward Reconciliation.
The Reconciliation Action Plan asks “What is your next most powerful step towards Reconciliation?”
Talking about Reconciliation in the Workplace
What is your next most powerful step?
Reconciliation promotes and facilitates respect, trust and positive relationships between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Reconciliation - Keeping It Alive 2016-2018 articulates the ACT Education Directorate’s commitment to Reconciliation which is demonstrated through an individual’s ‘next most powerful step’. This requires reflecting upon Reconciliation, then determining and taking a personally meaningful action to support Reconciliation.
The aim of this guide is to encourage you to take your next most powerful step through talking about Reconciliation in the workplace. A place to begin might be to talk with others about what reconciliation means to you. You can do this by reflecting on the following four questions within the Reconciliation postcard.
- Are the conversations I have on a regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education positively focused or negative?
- How am I creating spaces for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to feel free to express ‘who they are’ and ‘how they want to be’?
- What do I do that prevents Reconciliation?
- What am I doing on a daily basis to contribute to Reconciliation?
The Reconciliation Postcard was launched with the Directorates Reconciliation Action Plan during National Reconciliation Week 2016.
Yarning Circles have been used by Aboriginal people for thousands of years to discuss important issues in an inclusive and collaborative way. A Yarning Circle creates a non-hierarchical environment for the conversation. When participating in a Yarning Circle it is important to be present, to have respectful interactions, to be open and honest, to listen deeply, acknowledge others and offer your own thoughts and feelings in turn.
Yarning Circles are both a culturally appropriate and structured approach to having authentic conversations about Reconciliation in the workplace. A Yarning Circle might be established as part of a regular team meeting as a way to talk about reconciliation in the workplace. The four questions on the reconciliation postcard provide structure to the conversation and enable you to explore your understanding of reconciliation.
Build a Yarning Circle
To build a Yarning Circle, construct a circle of chairs in a space without a table or any other obstructions within it. The circle allows everyone to see each other and encourages deep listening and active participation. Participants come to the circle without computers, phones or items that will prevent them from being fully present in the conversation.
Have a Yarn
Follow the six steps below to participate in a Reconciliation Yarning Circle:
- Facilitate. The facilitator’s role is to open the circle, engage with participants and lead the group through the Yarning Circle. Nominate a group facilitator prior to the Yarning Circle taking place and provide some time for them to organise their thoughts.
- Set the Circle. The facilitator invites people into the circle. Explain that the purpose of the circle is to allow each person the opportunity to reflect upon reconciliation through active and respectful listening from the other members of the circle.
- Acknowledgment of Country. Begin the circle with an Acknowledgement of Country. This sets the tone for the circle, demonstrating respect for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander custodians of the land and or sea where the Yarning Circle is being conducted.
- Check-in. A check-in allows participants to become present to the process to acknowledge and share what they are thinking and how they are feeling in the moment. Questions to facilitate checking-in might include; What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What do you bring to this circle? Allow time for everybody around the circle to check-in.
- Reflect. The facilitator helps each person reflect upon Reconciliation by identifying and asking particular questions using the Reconciliation postcard. Discussion continues around the circle and focusses on one question at a time. Remember that everyone has different stories, experiences and reflections and some of these may be easier to hear then others. Continue around the circle until everyone who wants to has had the opportunity to share.
- Check-out. End the circle by thanking everyone for their contributions and reflections. Encourage people to incorporate their Reconciliation insights into deciding to take their next most powerful step. Continue for one last round to allow participants to focus on respectfully exiting the Yarning Circle. Questions to facilitate checking-out might include; What are you thinking now? How are you feeling now? What is one thing you will be taking away from today’s Yarning Circle?
Remember that Reconciliation is a journey not a destination. Talking about Reconciliation in the workplace can be your next most powerful step on your Reconciliation journey.
To access a rich range of resources that will assist you on your Reconciliation Journey:
Clink on this link and request to join the professional conversation at the ‘Cultural Integrity in Canberra Public Schools’ private Google Community (available to employees of the ACT Education Directorate only.