AUNTY JULIE SMITH
INDIGENOUS CURRICULUM ADVISOR

 

Queenwood is a wonderful site for a school; close to the ocean but set back from the water and protected by the cove.

 

Aunty Julie Smith is a Kalkadoon woman. She is an Elder and an Educator. She is an educator who enjoys sharing cultural ways of knowing with teachers and students. Previously she has worked as a consultant in both the public and private sector. Her early career involved establishing Aboriginal Employment Programs. More recently, while maintaining her community relationships, Aunty Julie has been supporting young people to better understand Aboriginal people, their values and culture.

Sharing knowledge with the Queenwood Community gives me strength and optimism because I know it will be held with respect.

For young people to understand and appreciate Australia’s First Peoples (our mob) is something I feel is important to us all. If Aboriginal Ways are part of our education from the very earliest age then as adults, we are more likely to live respectfully on this land, the land that holds the world’s oldest living culture. Aboriginal lore is passed on through the generations using ceremony, art, song, dance and storytelling. The depth of the culture is accessible in stages. As we learn, we grow and are able to learn more. This is not unlike the system of education in mainstream Australia, however cultural learning is integrated into life and our living environment, more than structured into lessons in classrooms.

How we experience our environment is crucial to how we learn to know and respect our place and then learn to respect other people’s places. Learning about ‘place’ and respect for personal space is a vital cultural competency for everyone. As we walk on country we walk through the seasons and we see, hear, touch, taste and feel what comes with each season. We enter into the cycles of the seasons and this then helps form our perceptions of life and country and relationships. We learn how to take only what we need and to respect each living thing that also supports us to live. Every living thing is becoming known in the context of the whole of everything. So you see, values are inherent in our way of knowing.

Queenwood is a wonderful site for a school; close to the ocean but set back from the water and protected by the cove. I enjoy working with the staff and students there. I have noticed that, like my people, the students like learning experientially. I look forward to working with the young women at Queenwood more in the future.

These days I spend a lot of time with my grandchildren who delight in making things and telling stories. They are growing to know the value of family and the broader community. Sharing knowledge with the Queenwood Community gives me strength and optimism because I know it will be held with respect. My life work is expressed in the values my grandmother passed on to me, just as I now pass on to my grannies. Together we are sharing our cultural ways with people, today, who will guide the future, tomorrow.