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Reconciliation in Action 2021

Aboriginal people are worth the investment. Any culture that has lasted in your terms for 60,000+ years and in ours since the beginning of time must be a strong, wise and resilient one.
Too often in education and health, Western-dominated systems are about spending good money on fighting the symptoms of bad education and health to no avail – the annual parade of statistics are proof – while never spending a cent on the sources of bad education and health.
At Children’s Ground we are taking action – not only by existing and surviving but by thriving.  We are not waiting for symptoms, we are building from the core: reinvigorating our collective culture by going back to stronger ways of learning and health through the wealth of knowledge and wisdom from our First Nation elders. This provides the foundation for success for our children’s global education.
Our experiences of Western education is that it does not work from our strength. It is about the individual, and showcasing the learning of an individual.  In contrast, First Nations learning is about collective learning where our classroom is country, our classroom is culture, our classroom is language, our classroom is across generations with a structure of knowledge transfer that places everyone as the learner and the teacher. It is embedded in our identity.
Children’s Ground and the people that are part of our wider family (our funders, partners and supporters) are about reversing the effects of colonisation and dispossession by actively promoting community solutions, approaches, empowerment and freedom through systems reform.  This means moving towards autonomy, self-determination, independence agency and the right to choose .
 
Why do First Nations people not have the same equal measures of Freedom as others do? Why do you not trust the choices we will make for ourselves?
 
Our people our families and community want a future for our kids that is vibrant not a pathway of continued trauma. We want to access the choices, independence, agency and  autonomy that other Australians take for granted. 
What does freedom represent to First Nations people in this lucky country. 
We want our children and grandchildren to enjoy and where possible live on their country –  
Free of Racism, 
Free of prejudice, 
Free of poverty, 
Free of violence and crime.
  
Right now in Australia, freedom does not encompass ‘free’ for us.  We have not experienced the lucky country of Australia’s opportunities or expanding wealth.  We do not have our people as rightful leaders of their own country. They are the true owners of their knowledge but they don’t have power over their lives lands and waterways.
Government policies have been just another way to restrict our Freedoms, to remove our rights. To take away our choice, destroy our dignity and ability to contribute to our cultural practices and norms.
Children’s Ground, of which I am Chair, is about realising Freedom for the future generations.  However, there is a price to secure that Freedom for my people.  That price opens the doors of opportunity and allows us to express our self-determination.  Children’s Ground builds the empowerment of our people.  It denies the structures and systems that have taken Freedom from those who have the most right to it as First People of this lucky country.
The price is giving up power, and giving that power to us to make changes to a system that has held us prisoner for too long.
Give back the power and the freedom over what we can control.  
Give us the right to self determine.  
Give us the voice and the power to choose.   
To use our languages; 
To access and maintain connection to our country; 
To practice our culture 
To govern our affairs according to our cultures not prescribed western constructs.
To teach our own children the ways of First Nations knowing.
To bring the importance and significance of our people, our laws, our culture.   
Freedom for me is about removing the shackles of a history of stolen youth and life.  It is a story of not knowing my family, my skin group, my language, freedom to live on my country, to speak Arrernte and know it for my children and grandchildren.   
Our children need their Freedom back. It is their birthright.
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