Bringing the bush into preschool
Gummyaney focuses on bush study
TUCKED away in Pound Street, not far from where construction for the new bridge is in progress, sits Gummyaney Aboriginal Preschool. In its current location, this preschool has quietly been providing a culturally appropriate and quality preschool education for our young indigenous children for the past 13 years. Prior to 2005, the preschool was situated at the Grafton campus of TAFE.
Recently the preschool’s staff began to realise that many of their 28 enrolled children have had few opportunities to experience the Australian bush. Therefore, the preschool decided rather than just take the children on the occasional excursion to the bush, that they could bring “the bush” to the preschool. By transforming a small section on the preschool’s playground into a mini rainforest/bushland area, the children could then develop a stronger connection to their culture and experience the “bush” on a daily basis.
Andrea Laurie, the Preschool’s Community Liaison worker was given the task of organising the creation of this new outdoor learning environment. She enlisted the support of ETC and their youth program participants, who designed the new area with the input of the Gummyaney students.
Work has since commenced on the area, with many organisations either supporting or commiting support to the project. They include Fulton Hogan, Clarence Valley Aboriginal Men’s Group, Abcare and Clarence Valley Aboriginal Healing Centre.
Some plants, three large sandstone boulders and a “stepping stones” path has already been placed within the new garden. However, the project is far from complete, and the preschool is now seeking further support in the form of donations of native plants, materials and volunteer labour to enable the completion of the project.
Andrea said the garden was already popular with the children and that, upon completion, it would be a low maintenance area where children could have fun and learn about native plants, including bush tucker and bush medicine.
Please contact Andrea Laurie on 6642 2048 to make a contribution to this project. Giinagay Jinggiwahla (‘hello’ in our first nation’s languages) is a weekly column provided by the indigenous communities of the Clarence Valley covering a variety of topics, opinions and events across our first nations areas, Bundjalung, Yaegl and Gumbaynggirr.
Andrea Laurie and children from Gummyaney preschool planting grass trees donated by the Clarence Valley Aboriginal healing Centre.