Meet the Cultural Safety team

Gamilaraay woman Stacy Parry, Manager Cultural Safety Team, and Dharawal and Yuin man Ron Timbery, Senior Policy Officer within the Department’s Quality Assurance and Regulatory Services Directorate, are leading the Cultural Safety Framework project and share their advice to ECEC services about getting started on their cultural safety journey.

Image: Stacy Parry, Cultural Safety Team Manager with the Department's Quality Assurance and Regulatory Services Directorate

The development and implementation of the Cultural Safety Framework, a project from the First Steps Aboriginal Early Childhood Education Strategy 2021-2025, aims to encourage the best provision and maintenance of culturally safe environments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families across NSW.

“In 2020, the Department of Education’s First Nations team embarked on hearing from Aboriginal families and communities what was concerning about accessing and participating in early childhood education,” Stacy said.

“This really highlighted that Aboriginal families still did not feel early childhood centres were reflective of their culture; they were feeling like their culture wasn't celebrated and nurtured and they weren't feeling free or comfortable to be their true selves.”

The development of the Framework aims to address these issues, and is being co-designed with Aboriginal families, communities, the sector and members of the ECE Aboriginal Advisory Group.

“The vision is that all Aboriginal children get to participate in high quality, culturally inclusive education by increasing culturally appropriate, culturally responsive and culturally safe education in all ECEC services across the state,” Stacy shared.

"This Framework will provide early childhood educators with guidance, support and strategies, no matter where you are across the state, no matter what service type you're in, no matter if you have Aboriginal populations or not.

“It can absolutely make a difference for every single Aboriginal child in any early childhood service, but also for non-Aboriginal children, because they will be enriched by learning about us as the First Peoples of this country and our extensive knowledges of the land.”

“That's the ultimate goal; that it will have benefits right across the community,” Ron added.

During their consultations, Stacy and Ron have observed many instances of excellent cultural safety practices within services.

“A service we visited have been inviting one of the Aboriginal dads in to read to the kids,” Ron shared.

“It’s something really easy to organise and incorporate into their learning programs and day-to-day routines, but it can be built upon to enhance cultural safety and relationships with the local Aboriginal community; little steps, but they can mean a lot.”

“What’s so beautiful about that example is that it just encourages a love of reading,” said Stacy.

“So often, when people think about Aboriginal culture, they’re thinking of the didgeridoo, the clap sticks.

“But we're absolutely contemporary and adaptive people and reading is very important to us, and it just sends a wonderful message to the kids: we're not in the past, we're still here currently, and we are your neighbour.”

With the Framework still in development, Stacy and Ron shared some simple ways services can immediately start improving cultural safety.

“You can start by getting to know what country your service is on, starting to get to know your local Aboriginal community organisations and Elders, including your local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG), and collaborating with them to enhance your practices,” Stacy said.

“If you're not sure how to navigate that space, think about if there is someone in the service who may be Aboriginal – maybe a worker, or if you have Aboriginal students you might want to ask the parents because they can absolutely point you in the right direction.

“It’s important you don't just go to them for that information straight away, you need develop that relationship first and foremost.”

“A cup of tea is a good start,” Ron added.

Find more information on the Cultural Safety Framework webpage.

Image: Ron Timbery, Senior Policy Officer with the Department's Quality Assurance and Regulatory Services Directorate
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