Introduction

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Introduction

A major feature that distinguishes Australia from all other countries in the world is the ancestral relatedness of Indigenous people. This relatedness forms the world’s oldest living culture….acknowledgment of Indigenous ancestral relatedness, its values, and how these are realised is distinctly Australian.

(Department of Education and Early Development, 2008, A research paper to inform the development of an Early Years Learning Framework for Australia, Melbourne, p.2.)

In Australia, Belonging, Being and Becoming—the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) provides a basis for ensuring all children in early childhood education and care settings experience quality teaching and learning. It’s an essential resource for meeting the National Quality Standard, Australia’s national benchmark for the quality of education and care services. 

The aim of the EYLF is to extend and enrich children’s learning from birth to five years, and through the transition to school. It helps educators give young children a foundation for future success in learning, and opportunities to maximise their potential.

Foundations for Success builds on the EYLF and upholds its vision, that "all children experience learning that is engaging and builds success for life".

Used with the EYLF, Foundations for Success helps educators implement a holistic program that extends and enriches learning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in their early years. 

A holistic program: 

  • reinforces personal and cultural identities,
  • connects with families and communities,
  • provides the foundations for children’s successful learning.

The emphasis is on ‘relationships’ and the wider context of family and community. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are connected to the ancestral relatedness of their culture. This defines ‘who they are’ and ‘where they belong’.

Foundations for Success, which has now been developed into a multimedia resource, gives educators strategies to help children become two-way strong. This means they have deep and strong foundations in both the traditional and contemporary cultures and languages of their families and community, and those of the broader world. Children who are two-way strong move fluently across cultures, without compromising their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identities.

…we use…a term ‘fire-stick period’ (a fire stick is a stick that is kept alight to ensure the availability of fire). This term highlights that culture is something that should not be left behind, but rather kept as an integral part of their lives.

(Clancy, S, Simpson, L & Howard, P, ‘Mutual trust and respect’ in Dockett, S & Perry (eds) 2001, Beginning school together: sharing strengths, Australian Early Childhood Association, Canberra, p.57.)