many of whom have English as a second or third language

Professional development for Indigenous early
childhood educators delivered in home language
The Remote Indigenous Professional Development (RIPD) Project for the Early Years Learning
Framework (EYLF) promotes the use of the EYLF in early childhood education and care services
that cater predominantly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in remote, very remote
and rural areas.
The project, funded by the Australian Department of Education (DE), supports the Australian
Government’s commitment to giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children the best
possible start.
RIPD is being delivered by the Queensland Department of Education and Training (DET) in
Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia. The delivery model promotes
Indigenous Pedagogical Leadership and peer mentoring as pivotal in supporting the
understanding and effective use of the EYLF by Indigenous educators.
More than 200 of the Northern Territory’s early childhood educators have gained a better
understanding of the EYLF after attending a RIPD workshop. Sixteen workshops have been delivered
across remote areas of the Northern Territory, including six in 2013 and 10 in 2014.
Each workshop was tailored to cater for the educational needs and cultural contexts of participants and
their communities.
The importance of maintaining first language was a pivotal element of the Nhulunbuy workshop with
pedagogical leader Banbapuy Whitehead, who delivered much of the program in home language.
Ms Whitehead, a local Yolngu woman with extensive experience in early childhood education, said that
using first language in the workshop allowed participants to understand the EYLF more clearly.
“It made (the workshop) more powerful. They were able to understand it better,” Ms Whitehead said.
Incorporating practical activities allowed all of the participants to contribute, she said.
“We had different activities on the floor and outside and I talked about the importance of play-based
“We went outside and I explained the story that belonged to the area. I showed them how they can
teach children outside.”
Fellow pedagogical leader Catherine Orton said that Indigenous knowledge about what children
needed to learn was critical to the workshop’s success.
“It’s so important that we honour the learning that Indigenous people have as contributors to their
children’s learning,” she said.
“When we were outside … Banbapuy led some of the group into the mangroves. They came out with
about 10 different shellfish – a bounty of a harvest.
“Some of the group collected wood and started making a fire. Everyone contributed to cooking the
“The whole time, Banbapuy talked about the way children can be brought into this environment and
how they can learn in this circumstance.
“We’d go back to the EYLF and connect it with the principles and practices.
“It was just beautiful the way it pulled together.”
Ursula Barber from the RIPD project team said language and culture were important in the delivery of
the RIPD workshops.
“Banbapuy connected to the participants by speaking her home language and by demonstrating best
practice through real-life cultural experiences,” she said.
“She explained to me the story of how skin names link together and create a cycle. I was in total awe
as she related that learning back to the principles and practices of the EYLF.
“It was very evident to me that the focus of the workshop was all about our children, educational
learning environments and language and culture – a very powerful and unique experience which I will
always remember”.
RIPD participants at Nhulunbuy
Educators who participate in a RIPD workshop can obtain credit towards the Certificate III in Children’s
Services using the recognition of prior learning process.
All participation costs, including registration, travel, accommodation and meals are fully funded by the
Australian Government.
Employers are also reimbursed for the cost of relief staff for the duration of the workshops.
The Queensland Department of Education and Training has been engaged to deliver RIPD in the
Northern Territory to the end of 2015, following its successful delivery of a similar series of workshops
in remote Queensland.
To find out more about RIPD in the Northern Territory, contact: [email protected]