In 2020 we invite schools to be inspired by and engage with this year’s theme Caring for Country.
In Australia, First Nations Peoples have cared for Country for over 120,000 years, maintaining Country by using a wide range of strategies, knowledges and technologies to manage land, water and resources to ensure that Country is cared for now and for generations to come.
When we use the term ‘Country’ we are referring to the specific areas of land, sea and sky with which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities have a custodial, cultural and spiritual relationship.
‘Country’ is capitalised as a proper noun to acknowledge the significance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ relationships to Country and aspects of the way in which First Nations People think about, speak about and relate to Country.
“The land is the mother and we are of the land; we do not own the land rather the land owns us. The land is our food, our culture, our spirit our identity”
Professor Dennis Foley, Gai-mariagal and Wiradjuri man
Acknowledging Country and/or being welcomed to Country by Traditional Owners is an important way that we honour the long and continuing custodial relationships that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have with Country. Acknowledging this relationship is a way that First Nations Peoples and all Australians pay their respects to the First Nations groups of the area and acknowledge that they have been caring for Country in that area for generations. Through this practice we also acknowledge the Peoples, stories, languages and cultures of that First Nations group and the ways that Country cares for us and shapes our lives and communities.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples also care for Country spiritually by singing Country through ceremony, music, dance, language, story-telling, art and the intergenerational transmission of knowledge about caring for Country.
By exploring the theme Caring for Country students will:
These resources and activities will focus on schools learning from First Nations peoples about Caring for Country and offer schools opportunities to participate in caring for Country in their local community.
In 2020, we encourage all schools participating in the Schools Reconciliation Challenge to engage with the Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Education program. In particular, teachers will benefit from using the Caring for Country Professional Learning resource prior to engaging with this year’s theme. All schools should also add the Care for Country RAP Action to their Reconciliation Action Plan.
Reconciliation and the theme