Schools and Early Learning Services

Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Make reconciliation part of your story and your future. See below for ideas for National Reconciliation Week (NRW) activities.



Coordinate a Welcome to Country

A Welcome to Country is delivered by Traditional Owners, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been given permission from Traditional Owners, to welcome visitors to their Country. A Welcome to Country occurs at the beginning of a formal event and can take many forms including singing, dancing, smoking ceremonies or a speech in traditional language or English.

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A Welcome to Country is delivered by Traditional Owners, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been given permission from Traditional Owners, to welcome visitors to their Country.  A Welcome to Country occurs at the beginning of a formal event and can take many forms including singing, dancing, smoking ceremonies or a speech in traditional language or English.

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) events provide the ideal opportunity to invite a Traditional Owner to your school or early learning service to share their stories and deliver a Welcome to Country.

How to make this happen:

  • Consult Reconciliation Australia’s fact sheet on Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country protocols. Encourage an appreciation of the significance of the Welcome to Country amongst colleagues, students and children by sharing information on its long history and purpose in NRW event invitations and other communications.
  • Contact your local Land Council to be connected with Traditional Owners or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are permitted to conduct a Welcome to Country. Many Land Councils across Australia are listed here.
  • Ensure you also consult your local Land Council on appropriate remuneration for Traditional Owners conducting a Welcome to Country.
  • If a Traditional Owner is not available to deliver the Welcome, the ‘Welcome to Country’ App, developed for Apple devices by Weerianna Street Media, is an interesting resource to explore. The App detects your location, and for many regions around Australia, provides a video of a local Traditional Owner welcoming you to their Country.


Conduct an Acknowledgement of Country

An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for anyone to show respect for Traditional Owners and the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Country. It can be given by both non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are connected to another place.

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An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for anyone to show respect for Traditional Owners and the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Country. It can be given by both non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are connected to another place.

During National Reconciliation Week (NRW), if not throughout the year, staff meetings, lessons, speeches and formal occasions should begin by offering an Acknowledgement of Country. An Acknowledgement of Country is different from a Welcome to Country, which is a formal welcome onto land and can only be delivered by Traditional Owners or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been given permission from Traditional Owners to welcome visitors to their Country. The act of being Welcomed to and Acknowledging Country are a continuation of protocols that have been practiced for thousands of years.

How to make this happen:

  • The first speaker at an event or function (following a Welcome to Country, if there is one) should give the Acknowledgement of Country. Subsequent speakers may also give an Acknowledgement.
  • There are no set protocols or wording for an Acknowledgement of Country, though often a statement may take the following form:

“I would like to acknowledge that this meeting is being held on the traditional lands of the (appropriate group) people, and pay my respect to Elders both past and present.”

Consider this statement as a guide only—you may like to personalise and localise an Acknowledgement to make it as meaningful as possible.

  • If you are unsure who the Traditional Owners of your area are, contact your local municipal council or Aboriginal Land Council to confirm, as sometimes there are several groups of Traditional Owners in one region.
  • Consult Reconciliation Australia’s fact sheet for further information and guidance.


Display Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags

Flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags is a highly visible symbol of respect. This act demonstrates Australia’s recognition of its First Peoples and promotes a sense of community partnership and a commitment to reconciliation.

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Flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags is a highly visible symbol of respect. This act demonstrates Australia’s recognition of its First Peoples and promotes a sense of community partnership and a commitment to reconciliation.

How to make this happen:

  • It is important that specific protocols are followed when flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to ensure they are displayed in a dignified manner. Consult Reconciliation Australia’s fact sheet for an explanation of these protocols.
  • Ensure you fly both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, as they represent two distinct cultures. It’s important to recognise that even within each group, various languages and traditions are practiced across Australia.
  • There are several ways you can choose to display flags:

– Display full size flags in your office, community or school hall. You may wish to hold a flag raising ceremony as a more prominent show of support for reconciliation. If holding a ceremony, consider engaging with a local Elder to conduct a Welcome to Country.

– Provide smaller desk size flags for display in staffrooms/offices.

  • Procure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags of all sizes from Flag World or another reputable manufacturer.


Participate in local community events

During National Reconciliation Week (NRW), public events are being held across the country— in other schools and early learning services, offices, boardrooms, community centres and local parks. Many of these events are free, and in the spirit of reconciliation, open to schools and services interested in building new relationships based on respect.

Read more...

During National Reconciliation Week (NRW), public events are being held across the country— in other schools and early learning services, offices, boardrooms, community centres and local parks.

Many of these events are free, and in the spirit of reconciliation, open to school and service communities interested in building new relationships based on respect.

How to make this happen:

  • Use our NRW calendar to see a list of events in your area and how you can get involved. If you’re holding an event, don’t forget to register it so others can join in.
  • Be sure to also look beyond our calendar for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and reconciliation events that interest you, such as art exhibitions, musical performances and local tours. There are so many mediums through which we can promote reconciliation and learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures and form new relationships—you might even pick up some ideas for your NRW event next year.


Have a yarn (professional learning)

Positive change starts with conversations which encourage the open exchange of ideas and build shared understandings. Set aside some time with your colleagues during National Reconciliation Week (NRW) to form a yarning circle and discuss the importance of reconciliation in our nation’s story, in your school or early learning service, and in your own life.

Read more...

Positive change starts with conversations which encourage the open exchange of ideas and build shared understandings. Set aside some time with your colleagues during National Reconciliation Week (NRW) to form a yarning circle and discuss the importance of reconciliation in our nation’s story, in your school or early learning service, and in your own life.

How to make this happen:

  • Read the summary of Reconciliation Australia’s the State of Reconciliation in Australia report and watch the accompanying video Our History, Our Story, Our Future.
  • Use the video and the five dimensions of reconciliation outlined in the Report to guide your yarning circle conversation. They are:
  1. Race relations
  2. Equality and equity
  3. Institutional integrity
  4. Unity
  5. Historical acceptance
  • You may discuss why each dimension is crucial for reconciliation and what practical steps we can take in our own lives to progress them.
  • Ensure you respect the protocols of the yarning circle process by providing all participants with an opportunity to have their say. Each participant should speak, one at a time, and be heard without interruption. This process develops deep listening skills and the ability to show respect in the face of differing views.


Host a morning tea

Bringing your school or early learning service community together for a morning tea demonstrates that reconciliation is an important priority and will encourage participants to stop, reflect and take notice of its place in their own lives.

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Bringing your school or early learning service community together for a morning tea demonstrates that reconciliation is an important priority and will encourage participants to stop, reflect and take notice of its place in their own lives.

How to make this happen:

  • Enter details of your National Reconciliation Week (NRW) event into our interactive poster and display it around your school or early learning service to encourage awareness and attendance.
  • Consider including some meaningful insights on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ histories and cultures on the event invitation. Share Our Pride, Reconciliation Australia’s online learning resource, is an easy place to find accurate information.
  • Engage with a local Elder to conduct a Welcome to Country.
  • Consider screening Who We Are: Brave New Clan films, available here. In these short films, six exceptional young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples share stories about their communities, histories and cultures in contemporary Australia.
  • Consider inviting a representative of a local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program or organisation to attend your morning tea and share information about the work they do.


Hold TED screenings (professional learning)

The journey towards reconciliation forms a significant part of Australia’s story, as do the stories of both trauma and triumph told by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. TED talks give us privileged access to these stories, told first hand in moving and motivating ways by diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals.

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The journey towards reconciliation forms a significant part of Australia’s story, as do the stories of both trauma and triumph told by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

TED talks give us privileged access to these stories, told first hand in moving and motivating ways by diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals.

How to make this happen:

  • Most TED talks are less than 20 minutes in length, so can quite easily be screened via YouTube at a staff meeting during National Reconciliation Week (NRW).
  • There are many incredible talks, but here are a few that speak strongly to reconciliation:

Science, art, and reconciliation by Steven Tingay at TEDxPerth

ONExSAMENESS by Dr Anita Heiss at TEDxBrisbane

Two worlds by Ingrid Cumming at TEDxPerth

IndigenousX by Luke Pearson at TEDxCanberra

 ONExEAR by Michael Williams

All you need is…. TO DREAM by Chris Sarra TEDxBrisbane



Visit sites of cultural significance

Visiting sites of cultural significance within your town, city or surrounding national parks can provide a different perspective on the land where you live, work or play and allow you to learn about the Traditional Owners of the area.

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Visiting sites of cultural significance within your town, city or surrounding national parks can provide a different perspective on the land where you live, work or play and allow you to learn about the Traditional Owners of the area.

Working with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to learn about and visit sites of historical and cultural significance will also enrich relationships, understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culture, Country and place.

How to make this happen:

  • Many National Parks offer cultural walking tours, as do some Land Councils and cultural centres. Visit the websites of these organisations in your area to see what’s on offer.
  • You can also search Supply Nation certified businesses that run tours here.
  • If established cultural tours are not available in your area, we recommend contacting your local Land Council to find out if any local Elders or Traditional Owners offer their expertise through talks or cultural walks.
  • Even if you don’t participate in a formal tour or talk during NRW, there are opportunities to learn about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures of local areas—by taking notice of the names of places, acknowledgments of Traditional Owners, information plaques and the visual arts in your everyday surroundings.
  • Self-guided walking tour Apps, such as City of Sydney Culture Walks, and books including Aboriginal Sydney, Aboriginal Darwin and Aboriginal Melbourne, may also allow you to explore local precincts of significance to Aboriginal peoples.


Host a book club (professional learning)

Reconciliation is an important part of our nation’s story and reading books can give privileged access to many different perspectives on this story and fill in historical blind spots. While we can learn much from reading alone, hosting a book club can provide even more insight by encouraging meaningful discussions about reconciliation and sharing ideas and viewpoints.

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Reconciliation is an important part of our nation’s story and reading books can give privileged access to many different perspectives on this story and fill in historical blind spots. While we can learn much from reading alone, hosting a book club can provide even more insight by encouraging meaningful discussions about reconciliation and sharing ideas and viewpoints.

How to make this happen:  

  • Use our book guide to pick one, six or twelve books of interest focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.
  • You may like to hold a one-off book club during National Reconciliation Week (NRW), or continue reading throughout the year by holding a discussion group monthly or every two months.
  • The book club discussion could take place in person, or if pressed for time to gather, through a private online forum.
  • Consider posing a few questions to guide your discussion. Try to move beyond likes and dislikes to questions such as:

-What did you learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories or peoples?

-How do you think the book could start a dialogue about reconciliation?

  • If your book club successfully runs for a year, you may like to vote on your favourite book and host a reading of select passages during the next NRW.


Promote NRW on social media

Social media is a great way to share your National Reconciliation Week (NRW) experiences and to join in the national conversation about reconciliation between 27 May and 3 June.

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Social media is a great way to share your National Reconciliation Week (NRW) experiences and to join in the national conversation about reconciliation between 27 May and 3 June.

How to make this happen:

  • Like Reconciliation Australia on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all the latest updates.
  • Use the hashtag #NRW2017 on social media and start a conversation about reconciliation. Let everyone know what your plans are by sharing event invitations ahead of NRW and photos capturing your experiences during the week.
  • Explore the #NRW2017 hashtag to see what other people are doing—you might come up with some great ideas for next year.


Screen Indigenous films and TV programs

The stories and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are exceptionally diverse. Films, television and documentaries depicting these rich stories are an accessible and social way to continue your learning journey around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is the ideal time to gather students and children for a viewing and share your responses and learnings.

Read more...

The stories and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are exceptionally diverse. Films, television and documentaries depicting these rich stories are an accessible and social way to continue your learning journey around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is the ideal time to gather students and children for a viewing and share your responses and learnings.

How to make this happen:

  • Reconciliation Australia has compiled a list of films, TV shows and docos recommended for various audiences. This resource also gives pointers on how to access these materials.
  • Consider consulting the teaching guides available for some of the recommended resources , including comic series NEOMAD and the Who We Are: Brave New Clan documentaries.


View Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have used a variety of media to tell stories for thousands of years. Paintings, carvings, weavings, dance, song and other art forms continue to be a way to pass on stories, histories and knowledge across generations. Viewing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art or inviting Indigenous artists to share their practice is another way of deepening understanding of histories and cultures.

Read more...

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have used a variety of media to tell stories for thousands of years. Paintings, carvings, weavings, dance, song and other art forms continue to be a way to pass on stories, histories and knowledge across generations. Viewing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art or inviting Indigenous artists to share their practice is another way of deepening understanding of histories and cultures.

How to make this happen:

  • As always, your local community is the ideal place to start. Consider contacting your local Land Council to be put in touch with artists from your region who may be open to speaking to your school or service about their art practice, or Traditional Owners who could take your group to a site of significance where paintings and carvings can be viewed. Community and council run galleries may also be able to provide guidance and appropriate contacts.
  • Remember that building trusting and collaborative relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities takes time, so ensure you follow up over time with your enquiries. Also ensure that artist guests are properly remunerated for their time speaking in your school or service.
  • If time doesn’t allow for community outreach, large state or territory galleries and cultural institutions have impressive collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, both historical and contemporary, and may be able to arrange guided tours for school or service groups. If this is the option that most suits your school or service, consult the education or tours section of the gallery website.
  • You may like to support a local or other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artist by purchasing a work for your school or service.


Gather to share food

Gathering for a shared meal is a universal way to come together and allows us to exchange far more than food. It also encourages us to exchange knowledge, tradition and contemporary cultural forms, as well as strengthen relationships and respect. Using native Australian ingredients could add another dimension of learning and new taste sensations to your barbeque, picnic or dinner party.

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Gathering for a shared meal is a universal way to come together and allows us to exchange far more than food. It also encourages us to exchange knowledge, tradition and contemporary cultural forms, as well as strengthen relationships and respect.

Using native Australian ingredients could add another dimension of learning and new taste sensations to your barbeque, picnic or dinner party.

How to make this happen:

  • When preparing food to share, take inspiration from tantalising recipes by Aboriginal chefs like Mark Olive or Clayton Donovan, or add a pinch of a native herb to a tried and tested dish.
  • If your school or service has a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), a barbeque or picnic could be a great way to involve more people in conversation about the goals, commitments and achievements you’ve made by having a RAP. If you don’t have a RAP but would like to find out more, visit our Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning Services website.