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Home > News > Professional Issues > Professional Issues Volume 11 > Campaign seeks to empower Elders as storytellers

Campaign seeks to empower Elders as storytellers

2017_Ipswich_034.jpgThe importance of family and community involvement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students’ learning has been highlighted by The Early Years Count Elders as Storytellers campaign. 

Issue snapshot:

  • A new campaign has been launched to highlight the importance of family and community support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students’ and to encourage their enrolment in kindergarten. 
  • As part of the campaign, Elders and community members deliver important messages regarding cognitive development in kindergarten and cultural connection. 
  • Members can access stories told by Elders and community members here

On 29 June, Education Minister Kate Jones launched the Elders as Storytellers campaign to encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to enrol their children in kindergarten.

Ms Jones said the campaign was designed to empower families and communities to play an active role in their child’s early development. 

“Using the trusted voice of prominent community elders and personalities it will draw attention to the powerful role our Elders, ancestors, families, early childhood services and many more, play in the development of children in the early years.

“We tell the stories of six prominent Elders and community members, exploring the importance of early brain development, connection to culture, country and community, and the importance of playgroup and kindy in early years’ development.” 

Ms Jones said Elders as Storytellers is an evidence-based campaign that will help further increase kindergarten participation.

“In 2016, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kindergarten participation reached 93.1% in Queensland.

“We want it to reach at least 95% by 2018,” Ms Jones said. 

Through the Elders’ stories, the campaign will work to encourage parents to get involved as a child’s first teacher, to connect with the community by joining a playgroup, and ultimately enrol their children in kindergarten to help build skills and knowledge. 

Our union believes that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community – with its sharing of knowledge, stories, culture and language – can enrich students’ experiences in Early Childhood Education. 

IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary and Reconciliation Action Plan Caretaker Terry Burke said lessons learnt from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community are invaluable. 

“From early childhood and beyond, children who are able to learn from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community without a doubt gain deeper understanding and appreciation of First Nations peoples, and the rich history that spans tens of thousands of years. 

“There is no greater knowledge of this land and its history than that held by the Elders of our communities, and what better way for a child to learn than with the support and guidance of their families and the community. 

“By ensuring families play a role in their children’s early childhood education, not only will it benefit their child’s learning, it will also help develop their cultural identity and sense of self. 

“Additionally, programs such as this can help teachers inform their professional judgements in regard to the support of reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

“Ultimately, this is what is needed to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students can thrive, and that culture is preserved,” Mr Burke said. 

Find stories from Elders and community members here.

More information on The Early Years Count Elders as Storytellers campaign is available via The Early Years Count website


Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.