8 Community connections

Rebecca Dooley

We’re really struggling with making connections with the local community elders. Can someone put together some ideas for this, specific to a location in Queensland?


The Gummingurru is a sacred site of the Jarowair Aboriginal people – which are among many different Aboriginal groups connected to the Bunya Mountains – located on the outskirts of Toowoomba, Queensland (“Gummingurru: Site History”, 2012). Before the arrival of Europeans, Aboriginal peoples met at Gummingurru every three years for male initiation ceremonies and this practice continued into the late 19th century when the Jarowair people were removed from the area and sent to live on missions and reserves.

The Gummingurru site is currently in the care of traditional custodians called the Gummingurru Aboriginal Corporation (GAC). Whilst there are many different activities and learning opportunities to participate in at Gummingurru, one of the most important in this case is going on a tour around the site with a member from the GAC – a traditional custodian – which is a very important reconciliation activity in order to gain valuable knowledge about the history and heritage of the Jarowair Aboriginal People.


Depending on location it may be difficult to find a site or community allowing people to visit or be involved in the learnings of Indigenous history and cultures. For early years educators in the area who are ‘struggling to make connections with the local community elders’ the Gummingurru site has been approved by the Jarowair custodians to be open and available to anyone and everyone interested in learning about Aboriginal culture and heritage. This would be a great place for schools and teachers to undergo professional development and training and for students to be brought along on an excursion to learn about the history and culture of Indigenous elders within the local community.

Being engaged in learning about Gummingurru and its history has clear links to the Early Years Learning Framework, outcome 2 ‘children are connected with and contribute to their world’. When children participate in the learning activities created by the people at the Gummingurru site – 2.1 – ‘children will start to develop a sense of belonging to groups and communities and an emerging understanding of reciprocal rights and responsibilities’, 2.2 ‘Children respond to diversity with respect’ and 2.3 ‘become aware of fairness’ (DEEWR, 2009).


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