9 Connecting with local elders in the Mareeba community

Selena Dyer

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?


This resource has been designed to address the needs of educators wanting to make connections with Local Indigenous elders of Mareeba, to support Reconciliation within the school community.

The resource outlines specific contact points for initiating collaborative relationships and would be presented to staff at start of year inductions or as professional development. These acknowledged representatives would be invited along to contribute to the presentation and introduce themselves to staff. The resources would be digitally shared with educators for reference and updated as required.

This resource is particularly appropriate to addressing this need as it is specific to the local Indigenous community, the Muluridji People. This is paramount as Australian Indigenous cultures are not homogenous but represent hundreds of cultures and histories, which are unique to each geographical location (Perso & Hayward, 2015) therefore this presentation is tailored to the particular needs of the Mareeba community. Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Australia (n.d.) calls our attention to the understanding that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and Traditional Owners are the only custodians and owners of the knowledge and cultures of the Country and land our school and educational services are located. The resource reflects this understanding while aligning with the Early Years Learning Framework’s (DEEWR, 2009) view that a child’s development of identity occurs within the context of their families and community.  Similarly, the socio-cultural theory of Vygotsky (Dolya, 2009) attributes knowledge construction to active meaning-making through interactions with the social world, by internalization of culture and social relationships. By accessing the knowledge and contributions of those identified through the resource, students will experience a validation of their culture, and their identity which promotes excellence in learning through interconnection of the individual student and the community. The Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines (Queensland Curriculum Assessment Authority, 2018b) also has a strong focus on building inclusive partnerships and encourages teachers to follow cultural protocols to build connections with Indigenous communities.  The resource supports teachers in this by providing background information and providing guidance to ensure communication is genuine, respectful and culturally appropriate.


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