Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Sutherland Shire learn more about their heritage

Jo Graham, Aunty Dolly Brown and Karen Armstrong with children at Kurnell Public School, who received starter packs. Picture: Chris Lane
Jo Graham, Aunty Dolly Brown and Karen Armstrong with children at Kurnell Public School, who received starter packs. Picture: Chris Lane

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children attending primary schools in Sutherland Shire are learning more about their heritage through a new initiative.

Sutherland Shire Reconciliation (SSR) put together 300 school starter packs, which are being distributed, one per family, across the shire.

The pack, provided with the help of sponsors, includes the book, Young Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe, a Dharawal picture dictionary / colouring book with traditional Dharawal rock art images from Sutherland Shire, three flags and an Aboriginal Australia cultural map and stationery.

Aboriginal committee members made braided ties in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag colours to attach a large gum tree capsule on each bag.

Six families with children at Kurnell Public School were presented with their packs by the SSR committee members.

Principal Jo Graham praised the initiative.

"It gives the children some resources they can share with their families so they can understand their culture and background and brings that real sense of pride," she said.

SSR, a member group of the NSW Reconciliation Council, aims to foster relationships, understanding and respect between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

"We seek to work with all who see the Reconciliation process as the way forward to a better future for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians," the group says.

"Our committee is made up of five Aboriginal people and five non-Aboriginal people who live and/or work on the traditional lands of the Dharawal speaking people in Sutherland Shire.

"We are a group of both men and women of varying ages from 20's to 80's. SSR holds bi-monthly meetings and monthly yarning circles."

SSR says its other initiatives include:

  • "In 2019, we published their first book, The Past Is In Us, Not Behind Us, a biography of the late Les Bursill, OAM, Dharawal Knowledge Holder and SSR Committee member.
  • "Support Survival Day by joining the Yabin Festival on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people in Sydney at Victoria Park.
  • "Join in the Appin Massacre Memorial each year.
  • "Proudly collaborate with the our local Aboriginal community; the Sutherland AECG (Aboriginal Education Consultative Group); and the SSAAC (Sutherland Shire Council's Aboriginal Advisory Sub Committee).
  • "Wear our 'We support the Statement from the Heart' T-shirts.
  • "We joined the rally in Cronulla on Valentine's Day to support a voice for our First Nations people being enshrined in the constitution, with Reconciliation NSW and Thomas Mayor.
  • "Host excursions to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney to participate in bush tucker workshops; the Art Gallery NSW and State Library of NSW to view Aboriginal exhibits; Hazlehurst Regional Gallery for film nights showing current films or documentaries on Aboriginal topics.
  • "Join the ANTaR 'Walk for Reconciliation' across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
  • "Host bush tucker workshops to learn to grow and cook bush foods and a tasting time at the end.
  • "Celebrated our 21st Anniversary in 2019, by hosting an Expo to showcase Aboriginal craft, art and bush tucker foods and provided the opportunity for sale of these on the day.
  • In 2019, several members attended the Yamma Ngunna Baaka Corroborees Festival bus tour of several NSW outback towns with the 'Water for Rivers'. We learnt of the devastating impact of the theft of water by large companies from the Murray Darling water system."

Future plans include:

  • "Continue the 'Yarning Circles' at ORANA, each month.
  • "Provide a day of learning about Dharawal language. .
  • "Provide 'Journey into understanding' day courses and events to provide more knowledge about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, heritage, and spirituality, and to build positive relationships within the community."

SSR says new members are welcome.

For further information about the school starter packs or SSR, email: suthsrec@gmail.com