Resources for teaching Aboriginal Languages and Cultures

Cultural Knowledge Story

Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework –  Three Elements: Outcomes, Transition and Practice Principles

The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) guides early childhood professionals to work together with families in support of their children, embracing and responding to the cultural and linguistic diversity of the Victorian community and diverse approaches to child rearing. (VEYLDF, p. 4)

Background

In 2015, the Department of Education and Training commissioned Dr Sue Lopez Atkinson (Yorta Yorta) and Annette Sax (Taungurung) to develop an artwork and related story to illustrate the concepts embedded in the VEYLDF.

The process for this Cultural Knowledge Story about the VEYLDF was a joint development, in which the research about Aboriginal pedagogy by Dr Sue Lopez Atkinson influenced the way that Annette Sax painted the image.

Early childhood professionals are encouraged to think deeply about their pedagogy and practice, including their conversations with children.

This Cultural Knowledge Story is designed to support discussions with children and families about the three key VEYLDF concepts: Practice Principles, Learning and Development Outcomes, and Supporting Children’s Transitions (VEYLDF, p. 38).

The Practice Principles of the VEYLDF promote personal and collective acknowledgement of each child’s identity, culture and spirit.  Practice Principle – Equity and Diversity states:

Children’s identity and their family and cultural histories shape their learning and development. Children feel welcome and learn well when professionals respect and acknowledge their unique identity. (VEYLDF, p. 12)

 Read and view the Cultural Knowledge Story online, or on page 38 of the VEYLDF.

Marrung – Aboriginal Educational Plan 2016–2026

The Department of Education and Training's recent strategy underpins the delivery of the Education State to Koorie learners by ensuring opportunities exist for Koorie Victorians to secure the full benefits of Education State reforms. It requires all services to embed Koorie aspirations and outcomes as core business, including early childhood services, schools and training providers.​ 

Marrung – Aboriginal Educational Plan 2016–2026 acknowledges that learning outcomes for all Koorie learners are greatly improved with strong partnerships with and connections to their families and communities. Success can be linked to culturally supportive and responsive learning environments from early childhood through to school and higher education and training.

The Victorian Government supports sectors to enhance learners’ understanding of Koorie cultures and histories by:

  • increasing the number of Koorie language programs in Victorian kindergartens and schools
  • supporting community efforts at language learning through working with the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated (VAEAI) and the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages (VACL)
  • providing assistance to support Koorie community members to undertake relevant language and teacher training courses.

(Marrung, p. 18)

Access to resources and more information about Marrung, is available on the Department of Education and Training website.

Teaching Aboriginal Languages in Victorian Schools and Early Childhood Services

Victorian Aboriginal Languages have been taught in government schools since 2004 at VCE level, and at Years F–10 since 2009, to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. Schools teaching an Aboriginal Language report an improvement in relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community members, as well as increased self-esteem and engagement for Aboriginal students. As with studying any language, the earlier a learner commences, the better their language skills.

Schools and early childhood services are encouraged to introduce an Aboriginal Language and Culture program. For more information, see the Aboriginal Languages Victoria website and contact:

Curriculum information related to reclaiming and reviving Victorian Aboriginal Languages is available on the Victorian Curriculum F-10 website.

The Aboriginal Languages Victoria website features interviews with Aboriginal Elders, who discuss the importance of including Aboriginal Languages and Cultures in teaching programs, a guide to getting started and sample units.

For additional advice, access the Koorie Cross-curricular Protocols for Victorian Government Schools.

Bush Kinder: Supporting the understanding of Aboriginal Languages and Cultures

The Royal Botanical Gardens – Cranbourne offers a kindergarten program that takes children into natural settings on a regular basis. Children have the opportunity to engage with nature and each other to develop a strong sense of their identity and role in the natural world.  More information about Bush Kinder and other early childhood initiatives are available on the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria – Cranbourne website.