The Acknowledgement Project: Embedding Indigenous knowledges in early childhood education and care

The research aims to gain insights into effective and authentic approaches to ‘reconciliation pedagogies’ in the early childhood context, how these are valued and understood by families, educators and children.  In particular, this research investigates child, family and educator perspectives about pedagogical practices associated with the Acknowledgment of Country.  
The research findings will inform the development of a professional learning program for early years educators and some resources to support that program.

This research project explores the practice of ‘Acknowledgment of Country’ in Australian EC early education contexts to better understand the motivations and the perspectives of key actors around its meaning and significance. The study will document the practice in one exemplary site, explore and analyse the associated processes that support its implementation as a recurring ritual, and consider its contribution to the lives of children and cultural discourse.  Family and educator perspectives will also be gathered.  In this way, ‘Acknowledgment of Country’ can be interrogated through the lenses of the mandated early childhood Early Years Learning Framework and its promotion of cultural inclusion and cultural competence and the 5 Dimensions of Reconciliation identified by Reconciliation Australia (race relations, equality and equity, unity, institutional integrity and historical acceptance). The study will highlight important critical elements of pedagogies used in educational and justice focussed reconciliation activities and identify strategies for foregrounding equity and social inclusion in the early childhood context. Conducting analysis in the frame of policy documents such as the EYLF and the theoretical concept of ‘critical ambivalence’ (Charalambous et al., 2020) the study findings will inform initial teacher education and professional learning for early childhood educators. Importantly the study will inform the development of a professional learning program for early childhood educators and associated resources.