Aboriginal Transition to School Network

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involves professionals who support local Aboriginal children and families to transition to school positively and successfully. The network meets monthly during school terms at the NSW Department of Education, Nirimba Education Precinct in Western Sydney.

Network members develop valuable ongoing relationships as they work together around locally driven transition to school programs and projects. An important focus of the group is for members to support each other’s growth in cultural competence as it relates to working with Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families (EYLF, 2010). Discussions centre around ways cultural competence can be integrated in all aspects of service delivery amongst different organisations, to help close the gap that exists in current educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners (EYLF, 2010). The expertise and experience of the professionals involved has helped Kids and Traffic to better support the implementation of culturally appropriate practices in early childhood road safety education.

Creating connections in local communities can help educators grow in their ongoing cultural competence journey. For useful ideas to talk about and reflect on together about the meaning of cultural competence in practice at your children’s service, refer to the ‘Educator’s guide to the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia’ (pp.21-29).

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Network meetings begin with an Acknowledgement of Country. This recognises the Darug people as the traditional custodians of the area and pays respect to Aboriginal Elders past, present and future. This practice fosters respect for culture and heritage and awareness of the traditional Aboriginal people of the area.

There is no one protocol or set wording for an Acknowledgement of Country. It’s suggested organisations personalise and localise their acknowledgement to make it as meaningful as possible. Together with children and families find out more about the Aboriginal history of your local area to develop your own Acknowledgement of Country. Display it prominently and include it in staff meetings and gatherings of children and families.

ATtSN gatherings provide opportunities for sharing ideas about ways services can incorporate knowledge and understandings of Aboriginal history and culture into their programs. Group members, including those from the local Aboriginal community, explore strategies to connect authentically with Aboriginal culture and history in the Western Sydney area.

Through participation in ATtSN, organisations have built invaluable relationships with Aboriginal community members and groups. Many partner with Aboriginal programs and services in the area to increase involvement and engagement in their programs.

Some of the children’s services worked with Ngroo Education Inc., creating successful partnerships with Aboriginal families and communities to increase children’s ongoing involvement in their early childhood services.

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Road safety education is most effective when it is relevant to the local contexts of children, families and early childhood services. ATtSN meetings provide a great forum to brainstorm ways road safety education can be included in transition to school programs for Aboriginal children and families. A common topic emerging from group conversations was the importance of recognising Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and learning. Supporting the diverse learning styles of children and their families and including Aboriginal perspectives were also seen as crucial to engaging familATtSN pic5ies.
ATtSN participants provided Kids and Traffic with valuable feedback as we developed several of our Safe Journeys Safe Communities collaborative storybooks. Each children’s service we worked with had their own way of engaging with community to ensure Aboriginal perspectives were incorporated into their locally developed resources.  

Several of the Safe Journeys Safe Communities collaborative storybooks include local symbols and images to create links to real life experiences, people and places. Including artworks by local artists emphasised visual story-telling and added meaning to children’s road safety learning.

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Many of the symbols and images used in Safe Journeys Safe Communities were shown to ATtSN participants to gain their thoughts and feedback on their suitability to be viewed by Aboriginal people across NSW. Group members also reviewed procedures for appropriately acknowledging Aboriginal artists and their artworks. These conversations enabled a healthy respect for one another’s knowledge, experience and context to develop.

Nurturing relationships and processes that continue beyond any single project is integral to our work at Kids and Traffic. Our regular and ongoing involvement in ATtSN meetings and our genuine relationships with participants ensures the road safety education resources we develop evolve from sound processes
and honour the contributions of all involved.

ATtSN members benefit from their connections with other professionals. Together they focus on child and family wellbeing and support successful and safe transitions to school. Engaging with the wider community and learning more about other programs and projects that operate in your area can help you better engage and support children and families at your service.See how you can enhance your transition to school and road safety education programs, for example: • Link with early childhood network groups in your community (or contact other children’s services in your area to establish a local network).

• Come along to a free Kids and Traffic ‘Starting School Safely’ professional development workshop for ideas on how to make road safety a central part of transition to school for families. Find them on the workshop calendar and book in now.

• Use the Kids and TrafficSafe Journeys Safe Communities road safety checklist‘ to find out more about the road safety issues in your community and develop strategies to keep children and their families safer. 

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