A knowledge of Australia’s history and of local historical events is important to establishing respectful relationships with Indigenous children and their families.

In addition, this history helps explain the local language ecology where you work and why Indigenous languages and dialects are spoken or not spoken in different parts of Australia today.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today are proud and resilient survivors of colonisation and the impacts of settler-colonial society.

The families and communities of Indigenous preschoolers may have direct traumatic experiences and intergenerational knowledge of this history. So, while Indigenous preschoolers are usually excited to start preschool and learn new things, including SAE, it is important that Indigenous languages, cultures and knowledges are respected and valued in all aspects of education settings.

Why does history matter?

A knowledge of Indigenous history, and local history in particular, is important for incoming non-Indigenous early childhood educators, because it will help you to relate to your Indigenous children and their families in a respectful and informed way.

For example, it might seem quite natural to you to ask which languages are spoken in a community. However, as the question could relate to traumatic personal or local histories, that conversation might be painful for some community members. Educators who are historically informed will know to approach this topic sensitively.

If you are new to a community and looking for advice and questions to guide reflection, you might find this resource helpful: You’re in new Country: Advice for Non-Indigenous Early Childhood Mentors, Trainers & Teachers. The chapter titled ‘Listen and learn from a cultural mentor’ has some great tips and advice.