Numinbah Valley Environmental Education Centre: Our RAP journey so far…
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 128 No 3, 5 May 2023, page no. 21
Jingeri Jingeri Jimbelungs! (Greetings friends!)
Our centre, one of 25 Outdoor and Environmental Education Centres throughout Queensland, stands on the djagun (land) of the Kombumerri people, which is part of the Yugambeh Language Region. As part of our four-year strategic planning, in 2021 we decided to formally establish a reconciliation action plan (RAP), working with community members including Traditional Owners and other mentors who call the Gold Coast home.
All staff are invited to be a part of our working group. We have a RAP budget to work with, and we meet once a term to progress our RAP goals. All meetings are held during work hours and our cultural mentors are remunerated for their time and contributions. We also schedule in at least two community events a year.
Our first RAP was published in November 2021. Our vision for reconciliation is to continue to work collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mentors to authentically integrate First Nations peoples’ connections and ways of learning into our purpose, programs, place, and interactions with children, staff, families, and the wider community. Our gaureima (story) and connection to Country guides our teaching and learning interactions. We also care for the environment and acknowledge local cultural practices.
Some highlights from our RAP journey so far
- Cultural competency training: Our whole team committed to completing the accredited cultural competency unit AHCILM302 – Provide Appropriate Information on Cultural Knowledge by the end of 2021.
- A whole-school approach to pedagogy: Working with Mununjali artist Jaelyn Biumaiwai, our teaching team created a Learning Map, which visually communicates our centre’s whole school approach to pedagogy.
- Day on country: Working with our RAP mentors, we created a program to support students in developing a greater appreciation and understanding of First Nations peoples’ cultures, histories and ways of surviving and thriving on Country (https://numinbahvalleyeec.eq.edu.au/ourcurriculum/SeniorPrimary/Pages/A-Day-on-Country.aspx).
- Book launches: We have hosted and supported two book launches by local mentor and artist Jaelyn Biumaiwai.
- Professional learning with mentors: Our cultural mentors have facilitated workshops, including weaving for healing, didgeridoo sound healing, yarning circles, clapstick making, connecting to Country with totems, storying with Indigenous art, and exploring Numinbah Valley.
- The story of Numinbah: Kombumerri mentor Clinton Brewer has given us permission to share his “Dingo Dreaming” creation story about how Numinbah Valley came to be and its meaning ("holding tight") with visiting groups.
- First Nations Map: We worked with artist and RAP Mentor Glenn Barry to create a map of our centre and surrounds, highlighting First Nations ways of knowing, interpreting and being on Country. This will be integrated into our learning programs.
- National Reconciliation Week: To celebrate NRW 2022, we hosted an event for Robina SHS Indigenous Leaders from years 7-12. Focusing on the theme of “Be Brave. Make Change”, this included activities to inspire, empower and engage students in connecting with their Indigenous culture and identity, developing a sense of pride and belonging, and leadership potential. We will be running this event again in 2023.
- New school year, new shirts! We were thrilled to receive custom team shirts in time for the start of 2023 featuring our totem animal, baleirei (the Glossy Black Cockatoo).
- RAP meeting protocols: We invited school leaders and community group leaders to observe our RAP Working Group meetings and model ways of connecting and learning in action.
- Indigenous constitutional recognition through a Voice: Our team underwent a short professional learning course on this topic and yarned about our role in staying abreast of current, contemporary First Nations issues and perspectives (https://fromtheheart.com.au/education/#/).
- “Staying above the line” workshops: Working with the Preston Campbell Foundation, we participated in two interactive workshops focusing on what it means to live, work, and stay “above the line” in our intent and actions, with a focus on respect, responsibility, integrity, and kindness. We have created a staff culture commitment reflecting these principles.
Our RAP journey has been extremely positive, as not only does it keep us accountable in setting and actioning goals, we are working in the spirt of staying connected, participating in authentic consultation and inclusion, and valuing ongoing learning.
It is fantastic to have such strong support and input from our community mentors and high staff engagement with our RAP development and commitment. We like to say our RAP is a “living plan”, not just a document we have to tick off and complete.