Building on strength in uncertain times: In this together - Video transcript

Transcript - Building on strength in uncertain times: In this together

(gentle music)

Paulina Motlop, Kungarakan, Director Aboriginal Education Teaching and Learning: The safety and wellbeing of all staff and all our students in our schools is the Department's top priority.

Kevin O'Keefe, Noongar, Principal Advisor, Aboriginal Education Teaching and Learning: It really is to look after Aboriginal students, their parents, and the communities that they come from.

To understand that they bring enormous amount of strength to this whole enterprise.

Ian Trust, Kija, Elder-in-Residence: The opportunity for learning and sharing about culture and country in these uncertain times, is that it actually gives you more time to go away from the hustle and bustle of normal life.

We've actually got an opportunity to sit down with family, spend more time with family, and learn the stories of your region and your families.

Emeritus Professor Colleen Hayward AM, Noongar, Elder-in-Residence: Respect and care are really core values of importance in any case, but especially when things are difficult.

To have family first is really important.

To make sure that anything you have is shared, so that we're looking after each other and to make sure that everyone is doing okay, is really important.

Paulina Motlop: Physical distancing doesn't mean that you disconnect from those people that you love, those people you have close relationships with, and the friends and families that you need to be connected with.

It's all about your wellbeing as a human being and we need to make sure that those relationships are strong.

Colleen Hayward: For Aboriginal people, our connection to country and to family and to culture, I think, are real strengths in terms of helping us cope with change.

It's so important for people to know who they are, where they belong, and how they belong, and we get all that from those things of country, culture, and kin.

Kevin O'Keefe: On country learning and understanding the world that we come from is actually more important now than it's ever been.

You know, in a period like this where there is so much uncertainty and we seem like we're moving on shifting sands, to go back to our roots, I think, is really pretty fundamental.

To go back to our connections to family, our connections to country, our connections to the culture that's kept us strong for thousands of years, I think, is sort of like an anchoring point.

Paulina Motlop: It actually strengthens their cultural identity.

For non-Aboriginal people, it's that appreciation and understanding and the cultural responsiveness to who they are with the world themselves.

Ian Trust: I think on country learning can support school-based learning, is that they both require discipline.

Be able to sort of become good at something, you've got to sort of have discipline about it.

So you learn those sort of skills with on country learning and use them in the classroom as well.

Kevin O'Keefe: Sometimes we have to let our kids know about what the world in broader terms looks like and we need to be able to craft those messages in ways that doesn't scare them, gives them the facts, makes clear to them about why we are doing the things we're doing, but does it in ways that allows them to still feel protected and supported through that process.

Colleen Hayward: One of the things that I think is critical for Aboriginal people, for all people, is education.

I see it and I believe it to be the foundation of everything else that we do, in the main, because it gives us opportunity.

Paulina Motlop: Children need to socialise, especially when there's disruption in their lives.

It's the one constant, it's the one environment that they know will be happening every day.

We in schools, will provide for our Aboriginal families and our Aboriginal children safe places and environments to ensure that the continuity of teaching and learning happens.

Kevin O'Keefe: There are some people who are really struggling in our community, the particular and very important needs of the vulnerable, and it requires us to do more than pay lip service to it.

It means that we've got to find creative ways to reach out to people.

Ian Trust: See, education is like climbing a tree.

The higher you climb in the tree, the more you actually see around you and the more you understand.

So whether you're learning on country or in a classroom, it's all about how you sort of see the world by climbing this tree and I think that the things you learn on country is a lot different to what you're learning in the classroom but they both sort of contribute to your intellectual wellbeing and your wisdom and connection with other people in the end.

Paulina Motlop: Draw on the Elders, because we need to look after our Elders and we need to look after our families, and who will then look after our children.

Colleen Hayward: We have to take steps every day to make sure that the people we care about, know we care.

Ian Trust: We're in this together.

Colleen Hayward: We're in this together.

Paulina Motlop: We're in this together.

Kevin O'Keefe: We are in this together.