14 Nov 2018 at 12:00AM
Arrernte Educators present at ECA Conference 2018
In September, Arrernte Educators Felicity Hayes and Veronica Turner presented at the 2018 Early Childhood Australia conference on Gadigal Country in Sydney. Their presentation, Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe: Anwernenhe anteme iwerre anthaye ampe akweke anwerne-kenhe areyeke (Children’s Ground: Backing Aboriginal people to lead the way in the early years) received a standing ovation from a crowded room of conference delegates from around the world, including First Nations child welfare activist Dr Cindy Blackstock.
“I felt utnenge. I could feel the spirit of the old people there when we were speaking. They must be proud and tall. When we finished, everyone stood up and cheered us. I was over the moon. We had a whole room of people who we didn’t know support our passion for educating our children in a culturally safe way. It was great to meet our supporters, like Clare Warden and strong First Nations people from around the world who share our vision like Dr Cindy Blackstock from Canada. Thank you for listening to us.” - Felicity Hayes, Senior Arrernte Educator
“I really enjoyed speaking up at the Early Childhood Conference about the work we’re doing at Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe. I felt proud of myself. All these presentations are helping me build my confidence and develop my public speaking skills. People are really starting to notice us and what we’re doing for our children. I think we have planted some seeds in people’s heads at this conference...
It was a pleasure to meet Stan Grant after he gave his keynote address. We felt really moved by his words. We are speaking the same language - the same message. Aboriginal people are not inherently bad people! We don’t want our young people to grow up with this story of deficit and disadvantage! We are bigger than that. That’s why we will keep fighting - fighting to provide culturally appropriate education for our children in an environment of inclusion, love and safety at Ampe-Kenhe Ahelhe.” - Veronica Turner, Senior Arrernte Educator
Veronica and Felicity received inspiring feedback following there presentation from various conference delegates working in the sector.
The story was truly inspiring. Out of the entire conference they were the only people to get a standing ovation
The presentation was highly insightful, thought provoking and very inspiring. Everyone in the room had shed a few by the end of the session because it was so moving.”
ABOVE (L-R): Felicity and Veronica presenting at the ECA Conference 2018; Veronica and Felicity with two "fans" - Clare Warden and Grace Wills - after their conference presentation; Veronica and Felicity with Stan Grant; Checking out the sights of Sydney