Poster Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Balee Koolin Bubup bush playgroup–Connecting children and families to Boon Wurrung Country (#430)

Fay Stewart-Muir 1 , Sarah Bingle 2
  1. Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, Melbourne , VIC , Australia
  2. Casey-Cardinia Library Corporation, , Cranbourne, VIC, Australia

Being on country and learning from Elders and senior men and women allows communities to draw on long-held wisdom and to reconnect to the strengths of cultural knowledge… Elders can teach and pass on knowledge about country, story, song and ceremony, ensuring that the culture will be strong through the generations.’ (Healing Foundation 2012)

Boon Wurrung Elder Fay Stewart-Muir (VACL) and Sarah Bingle (CCLC) in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne (RBGV) established the Balee Koolin Bubup Bush Playgroup for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families based in the Stringybark bushland at the RBGV.

The shared partnership goal is literacy; supporting children's emergent literacy development as well as plant literacy, and cultural and traditional language development.

Aboriginal families value:

  • Learning outside in nature on Country
  • Culturally safe and meaningful learning spaces
  • The provision of culturally relevant early years’ education for their children
  • Embedding Aboriginal culture and language into their child’s development.

Boon Wurrung Country: the playgroup is based on the traditional lands of the First Boon Wurrung Peoples, proud custodians and protectors of the land of ‘The Great Bays’ in south-central Victoria. The bushland setting provides a culturally meaningful space for children and families to learn about traditional Boon Wurrung Country, language and culture through the landscape of the Australian bush.

The significance of Balee tree flower symbolises the young child supported and sustained by the tree, which represents family and community.

What we did:

  • Took a whole of community approachto strengthening children and families’ connection to culture, traditional language and Country;
  • Reawakened and revitalised traditional Boon Wurrung Language; a living language that has been sleeping for more than 200 years;
  • Developed an Elder-led bilingual early years' Indigenous pedagogy to strengthen Aboriginal children’s cultural identity and wellbeing and to ensure each child feels a sense of pride in their culture;
  • Invited Aboriginal Elders and educators to share traditional knowledge, stories and language with children and families;
  • Created a safe, healing and culturally meaningful learning environment for children, their families and extended kinship community;
  • Extended the Balee Koolin Bubup Bush Playgroup program activities to Cranbourne Library and local community.