In-country course components include cultural tours of the University grounds, Redfern, the Rocks and Sydney Harbour, as well as son circles led by educators from the Indigenous community like Julie Welsh, a Gamilaroi woman Murawarri, who share their stories and experiences in a safe environment that does not avoid the truth.
“One of the most important things is making sure everyone feels safe and very welcome,” says Julie. “We really like a lot of questions, as long as they’re asked respectfully.”
She says her prominent non-Indigenous pre-service teachers build confidence and engage with the history of inequality within the education system in order to change it.
“Because when we think about our communities’ experiences with the education system, the system is not there for us as Indigenous people to thrive in. Our children were not meant to flourish. It wasn’t organized that way. But we can change that, and it’s the teachers in the classroom who can change that.
“Participating in a program like this benefits me, my family and my community,” says Julie. “By being able to engage in the tough parts of the conversation and do it in a really constructive way.”
Like many students who take the course, Arkady is committed to speaking the truth by listening to Indigenous voices and believes that Learning from Country provides teachers with the experiences needed to be “proactive agents of change”.
“You have to be actively involved in dismantling the aspects of the system that cause harm and create problems for people.”
“You have to be an agent of change in the way you interact with students, the way you connect with the school community and make sure that whatever school you work in, you are there as a positive force. That all students are respected and included in the community.