Perth Waldorf School: Reconciliation Action Plan progress

Perth Waldorf School

Celebrating our Reconciliation Action Plan Progress

Last year, Steiner Education Australia invited Steiner schools around the country to apply for support to obtain a Reconciliation Action Plan, or “RAP”. United by a shared passion for Indigenous learning and reconciliation work, Lisa Payne, Patricia Crook and Elaine Meyer joined forces to “yarn” about how we might begin the process of obtaining a RAP for our school. We began this yarn by acknowledging how privileged we are that our school rests beside an ancient birthing ground, the most sacred Whadjuk Noongar site south of the Derbarl Yerrigan. We paid our respects to the land’s custodians and ancestral guardian spirits, and asked for their support as we pondered how we might do justice to the historical and spiritual place in which we work and learn.

What is a RAP, and why do we need one? A RAP is a formal plan that supports organisations to ensure they are undertaking reconciliation work across a range of domains. Schools are especially important sites for this work, because they are spaces where truthful histories can be taught, culture and language can be celebrated, revived and protected, systems of racism and inequality can be combatted, and compassion and passion be awoken in young people to undertake healing community work in their later lives. Having a RAP helps schools to support teachers to meet the Indigenous Cross-Curricular Priority in all areas of our teaching. It also supports the transformation of schools into safe and welcoming spaces for Indigenous teachers, students and families.

How do we achieve a RAP? RAPs are granted by Narragunnawali, a branch of Reconciliation Australia that supports schools to acknowledge and foster pride in Aboriginal history, culture and contributions. However, achieving a RAP is not a singular event. It is a process of aspiring to grow into an organisation that weaves reconciliation work into all we do, reflected in the 4 levels of RAP that can be granted: Reflect, Innovate, Stretch and Elevate. Having reflected on where we need to work, our school is at the stage of innovating on ways we can further implement this work. In time, we commit to stretching ourselves to integrate reconciliation into our organisational strategy; we then elevate ourselves by providing leadership for other schools.

Our progress: As we took stock, and noted areas of improvement, we recognised that wonderful reconciliation work is taking place throughout our school. Some recent notable examples in the primary school are the Noongar Blessings on the Meal, Noongar orchestral work, Kindy’s Noongar circle, Class 1’s “Stories about Place” Main lesson, Class 4’s “Bibra Lake Dreaming” project, Class 5’s Noongar botany and Aboriginal geometry lessons, Class 6’s colonial history program and, setting the tone for the Primary School, Class 7 Kulbardi’s “Noongar Cultural Stories Project,” and Class 7 Wardong’s Aboriginal plays rich with Indigenous history and Aboriginal song. In the High School, we found Indigenous teaching occurring through English, Art, Surveying, Cosmology and camps. Increasingly, our students are writing acknowledgements to country in their Main lesson books, and students are choosing reconciliation work for their Class 9 generosity projects and Class 12 projects. This year featured a major cross-school reconciliation activity, the Elder Humphries project, where students collaborated with a Noongar family on a book that will restore a historically and spiritually significant Dreamtime story to the Noongar community, with 1000 copies being printed as we speak! And next year, Noongar classes will become part of the Class 7 Curriculum.

Our team: We celebrate these endeavours this NAIDOC week, and continue to look for opportunities to further staff knowledge and cultural competence across all levels of our school, and to build reconciliation into our curriculum in an integrated and organised fashion from K-12. This process is supported by the RAP Committee, which is now growing in size to hold this vital task. Members are:

  • Lisa Payne: Co-chair and our Primary School Coordinator, bringing reverence and enthusiasm from her global Aboriginal professional development experiences;
  • Elaine Meyer: Co-chair, parent and Steiner teacher, bringing training and sensitivity from her teaching at ECU’s Kurongkurl Katitjin and Curtin Centre for Aboriginal Studies to the Steiner context;
  • Patricia Crook: Class 7 Wardong teacher, bringing passion and commitment to reconciliation from her work with Indigenous students in the juvenile prison and years of Indigenous playwriting experience;
  • Phoebe Phillips: Class 6 teacher, bringing knowledge and creativity from her time working with Noongar Elders;
  • Dean Dioguardi: School Psychologist, bringing therapeutic understandings from his work in WA prisons to support staff and students as we undertake reconciliation work.

We are delighted to share our school’s Reconciliation Vision Statement with you today, and look forward to announcing the attainment of our first RAP!

Elaine Meyer, RAP Committee Co-Chair.

Perth Waldorf School Reconciliation Vision Statement

Perth Waldorf School values its continued association with the Whadjuk Noongar People, who for the past 45,000 years have been the traditional custodians of the land upon which we teach, learn and grow. Our vision for Reconciliation seeks to honour and develop this relationship by: providing a welcoming environment that cherishes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and knowledge; recognising intergenerational traumas inflicted by colonisation and actively facilitating justice and healing; and working towards building a society that celebrates diversity and equity, connecting all of us through our shared humanity.

This vision will sustain our commitment to:

  • build mutually respectful, inclusive and culturally sensitive relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, including consultative partnerships with our local Elders and communities, and supportive relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families connected to our school;
  • Explore, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, the alignment of Steiner Education and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, cultural and spiritual perspectives – pedagogically, economically and socially;
  • Renew, ongoing, our understanding of this alignment, and its inclusion and application within the Australian Steiner Curriculum, its framework, teaching methodologies and resources;
  • Build a school culture that honours the diversity comprising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and contributions, and celebrates their resilience in the face of intergenerational trauma and injustice;
  • Maximise the role that the education we offer plays in healing and ameliorating the deleterious impact of colonisation upon lives, cultures, families and rights to live on Traditional Lands;
  • Embed reconciliation across all areas of studies, on a whole school level, using a strength-based approach and recognising the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.
  • Facilitate equitable access to Steiner schooling for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • Promote whole-school immersion in Reconciliation Australia’s Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Education program.

Lisa Payne
Primary School Coordinator