Local preschool supports connection to culture

Dedicated to delivering a culturally safe space, Katoomba Leura Preschool creates inclusion and trust for its Aboriginal children and families.

Image: Visual signs: The cockatoo mural, Ngayiri Budjeri Gumada (Bringing Good Spirit), by local artist and Darug woman Leanne Tobin.

Located on land of the Gundungarra and Darug people, Katoomba Leura Preschool is an early childhood education service that is deeply committed to providing a culturally safe space for Aboriginal children and their families.

The community preschool is one of 50 early childhood education services across NSW to receive funding under the 2021 Community Grants Program, supporting the service to deliver targeted initiatives to increase participation and access for Aboriginal children in their community.

Early childhood teacher and educational leader Catherine Sansom said it was critical they were a culturally safe service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

“Families know we provide a space where their children can thrive, learn and are supported,” Ms Sansom said.

“Supporting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children starts with us as educators, in what we value and believe.

“As educators we have been supported to undertake a large amount of professional learning through various programs on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture, world views and ways of knowing.

Ms Sansom the preschool’s practices and curriculum reflected the views of respected Aboriginal scholar Tyson Yunkaporta who said children should learn through culture, not just about culture.

The preschool celebrated and recognised Aboriginal culture in many ways including a mural and riverbed space created, as part of the preschool’s Reconciliation Action Plan, by artist and Darug woman Leanne Tobin.

“Our service values First Nations history and culture, and we signal that we are a culturally safe space to the broader community through these visual installations,” Ms Sansom said.

“It has been satisfying for me to see the positive response from our preschool community and the broader impact our actions are having on our parents and families.”

Katoomba Leura Preschool’s director Alison Staniford said the community grant funding would be used for a range of initiatives at the preschool including further professional development for educators, installing a bush tucker garden and further mural artworks to be created by Ms Tobin.

“Our work so far has brought our community together and created more awareness of connecting to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. As a community-based preschool this funding is a valuable opportunity,” Ms Staniford said.

More information on the Community Grants Program can be found on the early childhood education homepage.

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