What we are learning
As we work, we reflect constantly in order to learn, adjust, improve and better understand what we need to do going forward.
Hurry up and wait
This was a quote from one of our staff as part of our reflection and planning. It describes the desire from the community to hurry up and address the serious issues that they face each day, while at the same time being patient, respectful and making sure everyone is on the same page. Creating the space for people to fill requires time. We need to stop and be quiet if we are to encourage local direction and leadership. There are so many things that people would like to see happen. So we find ourselves 'hurrying up and waiting'.
Collective investment creates real change
Having significant non-Government funding has provided stability and certainty through times of political upheavals over the past two years, where changes of Government have resulted in uncertainty for many service providers and many communities.
Relationships are everything
Relationships with community, philanthropists, staff and Government are at the heart of our work and must be healthy, respectful and meaningful. This takes time. Everyone has a different language, a different lens and a different focus. People look for different things, but we all have a shared vision.
Creating the path we are walking along
Explaining Children's Ground in an 'elevator pitch' is hard. We are not simply a program. We are a system, a movement, an approach – we are many activities coordinated around the interests of children and families, across whole communities. It takes time to explain what we do and even longer for people to understand the layers. We are creating a new path as we walk.
Constantly in grief
Grief, loss and death have a constant presence in many families' lives that we work with. The losses include young people and children as well as mothers, fathers and grandparents. They are devastating. Somehow people continue coming to work, to school, to gather. Some people disappear for a while. Some people come back and others are lost for longer.
First Nations-led education
This requires planning, spontaneity, adjustments for climate, sensitivity and patience. We are slowly finding our rhythm and connection with custodians from different clans to honour the cultural life and knowledge of the region.
Bringing people together
A child's environment is the biggest determinant of their wellbeing. We create environments where family and community connect, providing an important opportunity for them to come together on their traditional lands, with their children learning, laughing, dancing and talking. On-Country camps and celebrations create a space away from the day-to-day, allowing community connection and healing.
Stress and trauma
We work with communities devastated by the effects of colonisation and constantly changing Government policy. The resulting stressors on both First Nations and non-Aboriginal staff and the community create a challenging environment. We need to support our staff while at the same time staying flexible and responsive if we are to reach our generational goal.
Balancing the present with the future
The everyday activities and unpredictable situations we face can overwhelm the ongoing need to build upon our strategic path. For example, the learning environment has not yet been renovated to enable the quality of learning that we would like to see. This must be a priority amongst the many daily demands. We must keep an eye on and continue towards our long term strategic goal while delivering each day.
As a small team working with each community, the loss of any staff member can impact greatly on our continuity. Relationships are built up over time and are central to engagement and trust. Supporting a high quality and stable team is critical.
Housing as a foundation
We know that overcrowding and poor conditions are daily challenges faced by our staff. It is a critical issue that sits outside of Children's Ground's approach but impacts on people's health, education and employment outcomes.
What we are doing is working
It is exciting to see a new generation in surroundings that honour their culture, language and family. If we continue on this path their reality may be one of possibility rather than despair when they hit their teenage years and adulthood.