Raising the prominence of Aboriginal perspectives


With the assistance of funding for the site of first Government House at the Museum of Sydney from the Federal Government through the Protecting National Historic Sites program, the Learning Team have seen a number of successes in in their efforts to raise the prominence of Aboriginal perspectives related to the site, in their school excursion programs and teaching practice.

Working with Shannon Foster, a Sydney Dharawal Saltwater Knowledge Keeper, the team have designed a new year 5 and 6 program called Garuwanga Gurad (Stories from Country in local Sydney Aboriginal language). Pilots were successfully conducted in August and we are excited to  officially launch the program in the coming weeks. Through the program students explore and empathise with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal perspectives of the expanding colony in 1800s Sydney. They also look at how decisions made in First Government House, while on the site of the building’s remain, at the Museum of Sydney. Local Aboriginal language is used throughout and students are encouraged to use specific repeated words, such as country – known locally as gurad.

A new SLM street walk designed specifically to work with this program allows students to walk through the surrounding area and see places of significance to Aboriginal people and learn more about local cultures and histories.

Working on this project with Indigenous educators has provided great opportunities for staff, helping them develop a better cultural understanding to support all programs. In July the Learning program deliverers met with Shannon Foster to hear her personal and family story and their long connections with culture and country.

Leading up to the official launch, the Learning team also did a virtual launch with a one-off live video conference event from the Museum of Sydney on 8 August 2019. Nearly 3000 students from over 70 schools dialed in and learned to warurabanga (make string). Students from as far as Armidale, Bathhurst, Manildra, Euabalong, Exeter, Kurrajong, Nowra and Griffith as well as Sydney locals from Glebe, Strathfield, Thornleigh and numerous homeschool students made string with Shannon using traditional techniques. They also looked at a range of objects and artworks relating to the practices of Gadi fisherwomen. You can watch the recorded virtual excursion via YouTube (starts at 6 mins, 45 secs) or below. 

About the Author

Portrait of woman.
Naomi Manning
Naomi is passionate about teaching history and has worked in different contexts to do this over the years. Currently she working for Sydney Living...

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