Maintaining strong partnerships

May Murray Early Learning Centre has continued to nurture a strong partnership with the Gujaga Foundation through the pandemic, which supports their children to engage with Dharawal culture and language.

Image: Dharawal woman and Gujaga educator Sophie Youngberry with children at May Murray Early Learning Centre.

Located in Sydney’s Inner West, May Murray Early Learning Centre is an early childhood education service that is deeply committed to providing their children the opportunity to engage with Dharawal culture and language.

Even with disruptions to the program due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the service has maintained their focus on National Quality Area 6, building a strong partnership with the Gujaga Foundation to ensure cultural and language education has continued to be provided to their children.

“We feel incredibly privileged to be working with the Gujaga Foundation, to ensure our children know the true history of this land,” Beth said.

“We believe that embedding an appreciation of the culture and language of our First Nations peoples should be at the foundation of all early childhood education.”

Gujaga Foundation Chairperson and proud Dharawal man Raymond Ingrey said Dharawal was the first Aboriginal language heard by Europeans over 250 years ago, with the Gujaga educators descendants of those people who are able to share their language with the next generation.

“Our children should have Dharawal language and culture all around them, and for us it not only shows how far the Australian community has come, but also makes us proud as we want to share our unique culture,” Raymond said.

Dharawal woman Sophie Youngberry works as a Gujaga educator and has been attending the service since mid-2020 to teach the children the Dharawal language and culture.

“This year due to COVID disruptions, we have moved to a play-based delivery of lessons to engage the children,” she said.

Beth said the play-based education allows the children to have fun and makes it an easy transition to learning the language.

Senior Dharawal people, including Dr Shayne Williams also attend the service to reinforce cultural practice with the children and educators.

May Murray’s partnership with the Gujaga Foundation is set to continue, with plans to extend language education to both the staff and families to ensure Dharawal language is embedded throughout the children's day.

May Murray was one of 50 early childhood education services across NSW to receive funding under the 2021 Community Grants Program, which has enabled them to continue their strong partnership with Gujaga Foundation.

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