Being proud and strong

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Identity and belonging

A child builds a knowledgeable and confident identity.


  • develop pride and strength in personal and cultural identity
  • share a sense of belonging and connectedness.

Educators focus on the following aspects of children’s learning: 

  • pride and confidence in knowing ‘who they are’ and ‘where they come from’
  • understanding of themselves as significant and respected
  • a sense of belonging to their family, community and the early learning community
  • a feeling of acceptance for ‘who they are’ and ‘where they come from’
  • pride and connection to the language/s, culture and traditions of their family and community
  • awareness of the traditional and contemporary aspects of their personal and cultural identity
  • knowledge of their place within family, community and kinship systems as shared by Elders and community members.

Educators intentionally promote this learning, for example, when they:

  • promote in all children a strong sense of who they are and their connectedness to others
  • show genuine respect for all children and their ways of belonging, being and becoming
  • listen to and learn about children’s understanding of themselves
  • provide many opportunities for children to interact with the culturally valued skills, languages, stories, music, dance, ritual, food and crafts of their families and community
  • furnish the learning environment with resources and artifacts that show and celebrate the culture, values and beliefs of the children’s family and community, for example, family trees, photographs of community events, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags
  • involve family and community in gatherings and yarning sessions, morning teas, BBQs, shared lunches and celebrations
  • invite Elders to share aspects of children’s traditional heritage and cultural roots, for example, through storytelling or traditional music and dance
  • model language to describe and celebrate the culture of the community in first languages and Standard Australian English
  • provide many opportunities for children to explore different aspects of their identities through their everyday play, conversations and relationships, for example, knowledge about the sea, bush, hunting, fishing, swimming, horse riding, camping or sport
  • organise opportunities for children to participate in community events, for example, Blessing Ceremonies, National Aboriginal Day Oberservance Committee (NAIDOC) Week, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (NAICD), Mabo Day, Corroboree and Nulpa.

Educators look for evidence of children’s learning, for example:

In the familiar contexts of family and community when children:

  • show pride in knowing that they are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • confidently talk about or show they know who they are and who they are related to, and distinguish between family and non-family members
  • readily respond to a ‘nickname’ that has special meaning within the community
  • show understanding of their special place within family and community
  • respond to rules about interacting with family and community, Elders, Uncles and Aunties
  • show pride as they actively participate in community events and cultural ceremonies.

In new and unfamiliar contexts of an early learning program when children:

  • prefer the assistance or closeness of Indigenous educators
  • prefer to observe and listen to others share information about family and community
  • approach experiences, people and situations with encouragement from familiar adults
  • share information about themselves or their family with the support of first language-speaking adults
  • talk about things of personal interest with some prompting
  • experiment with languages, creole and Standard Australian English in play with familiar peers, and like-language speaking adults.

In the familiar contexts of a culturally secure early learning program when children:

  • enthusiastically share information about family and community
  • ask questions about others’ family and friends
  • talk about or draw and label siblings, Uncles and Aunties and extended family members, pets and community heroes
  • share aspects of their cultural heritage
  • name family and community members during play
  • share or model their skills in making or contributing to traditional crafts and artifacts, for example, weaving, spear making, traditional cookery
  • express ideas about their connection to country/homelands, for example, Dis my ‘ome ere-where Yarrabah, Dis bla my island dis one ‘ere, Nanna and Poppi live oba dere la.

As you reflect on practices, ask yourself

What does being proud and strong mean in this context?
How do children become competent in their own culture if they are immersed in someone else’s?

How are families viewed in an early learning program?

Do I engage in family and community partnerships to facilitate the exchange of ideas?

Do my interactions with children and their families reflect culturally specific knowledge?

Have I consulted with Elders in supporting children to develop strong cultural identities?

Does the environment reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identities, beliefs and values?

Are children and families happy to come to this environment?

Am I critically reflecting on my own cultural competence, and am I consulting with the community when assessing the cultural appropriateness of the program?