Enthralling a classroom of six year olds with stories of a 60 thousand year old culture might sound like an impossible task.
But thanks to a unique website developed by Reconciliation Australia and funded by BHP, teachers are successfully achieving this with thousands of school children across Australia every day.
“The next generation is where we will see real change in how Australians understand, respect and appreciate indigenous cultures and that’s why the website is so pivotal,” said Alex Shain of Reconciliation Australia.
BHP has been funding the Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning website since 2014 and the site is currently used by more than seventeen hundred schools across Australia.
Narragunnawali is from the language of the Ngunnawal people, traditional owners of the land on which Reconciliation Australia’s Canberra office is located and means alive, wellbeing, coming together and peace.
The resource-rich Narragunnawali website targets teachers and school administrators.
It is designed to help them develop their own plan for creating a school environment which fosters a higher level of knowledge and pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions.
“The logic behind the website is to provide a seamless, step-by-step process that helps teachers and administrators create an action plan for the school and the students through the use of hands-on projects and learning.
“That blueprint-document not only guides the schools in the creation phase but can be adjusted and grow along with the school’s needs. It almost becomes a living document,” he said.
The site helps shift the development of an action plan from a bureaucratic process into one of energy and action for students, teachers and parents and has been receiving high praise.
Google Australia recently acknowledged the power and effectiveness of the site, praising it for its seamless and creative approach.
Ideas on the Narragunawalli website range from a school flying the indigenous flag through to staging a reconciliation day morning tea or getting an elder to come and talk about the land the school is on.
“The website also allows schools to think critically around reconciliation and the vital role it will play in the future social fabric of modern Australia,” he said.
But it is the development of an historical acceptance of the wrongs of the past that Alex Shain says is one of the key benefits of the Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning site.
“Through the direction it provides and resources it offers, the site creates an incredible opportunity for children to shape a future based on understanding and respect in a way that previous generations have not been able to achieve.”