In 2011, Arrernte leaders articulated the CG Approach and outcomes in this painting, created by Arrernte artist Amunda Gorey. Since starting Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe (Children’s Ground Central Australia), Ingkerrekele Arntarnte-areme (First Nations Community Governance) has used this painting through the analysis of outcomes of Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe.
This picture represents our home, land, communities and people. We see this painting as a living image, we are living it and leading it. People have lived it for the last sixty thousand years – even today we still live it, but we are bombarded from all these negative influences. This painting shows us standing strong as a group. We are standing together, and we invite others to come join and be strong with us. We all work together, different languages and dialects coming together. This is how we lead Children’s Ground. We use this painting to evaluate how we are going with Children’s Ground. We are collecting numbers about kids and families engaging in learning, health and work. We are also collecting stories from our families and staff. We look at both the numbers and stories to see if we are making changes for kids that we all want to see.
Semi-circle shapes: In the middle and all over this painting these represent ilthe/apmere which means home, where we live – our land, country and community. We make this a safe place for everyone.
Little curved shapes: These are people. The larger shapes are adults, the smaller shapes are children. The curved pictures with the hats represent male Elders. The curved pictures with scarfs are female Elders. They are all within that home, within that community, and in Children’s Ground. Connected as one across generations. The old people are standing behind the young people – we are all being led and taught by the old people. When new babies are born, they are in the middle. With the whole family watching, caring and teaching. We are all responsible for each child – to look after each child for everything they need – their mind, their spirit, their body and all their knowledge.
Star-like shape: This is a fire, with the people sitting around it. Kids and families are learning and sharing around the fire – like we have done for so long. Elders are teaching our kids and young people, with the families all together – always working together. Families are sharing culture and showing children who they are, where they come from and where they belong.
Four blue half circles with people: These are kids, families and Elders in each area – all the Children’s Ground communities. They are within their own traditional lands and communities – but are all together too. We connect within our communities and with other communities. This is bringing everyone together. Everyone watching over the children. Everyone leading Children’s Ground for our children.
Footprints: They are coming in and out – children and all families and communities interacting with each other – sharing, caring and together. That is one of the most important things about Children’s Ground – the interactions. The footprints are us always looking back and following the Ancestors in our teaching and learning. The footprints always return to our country. We are creating the footprints with the children so they can build the life they want. Wherever they live they might have their own children and begin the cycle again. This will stop them from living the hardship we have now. Footprints mean we don’t stay in one small place and Children’s Ground is not in one place. It is in the community, the home and out bush – it is anywhere learning can happen, where the child’s learning, health and life can be strengthened. These places will be safe for everyone. When our children are taken to places where they can learn in their way then they can focus.
Four outer circles: These are children when they become adults – graduated students from Children’s Ground with a good future. They will have a choice. They have had all those experiences and the knowledge they have gathered through Children’s Ground. This will mean they have real choices. They will have the opportunity to get jobs in different places – it could be in their own community, or anywhere in Australia or overseas. Each circle is like a choice, an option – work, study, family, leader. We want our kids to be part of the world. Their footprints always come back to country. They know where they belong.
Black spaces. This is where we all work together. It is where male and female Elders and communities work together – where everyone works together because everything and everyone is connected to the land – where our country stops, someone else’s starts – our kids need to know all the stories. It is also about us working with people outside of Children’s Ground. We are sharing what we are doing at Children’s Ground – with other communities and with people outside of Children’s Ground.
Little half circles facing out: These are the funders and partners of Children’s Ground. They have their backs towards the centre to show that they are not controlling us but supporting us. The funding and support is coming into the community and we have a responsibility to them. We give back information about what is happening in our community, sharing who we are, showing the changes in learning, health and life of our children, families and communities. Our partners are a part of Children’s Ground we all work together.
White lines: These are connecting everything and all of us. It is us standing strong with each other for our children. We are supporting each other. Our communities will strengthen for everyone. We will continue learning and growing together forever.
Blue and white dots and yellow curves: These are the knowledge – the teaching and learning travelling around (in homes/communities and Children’s Ground). Within Children’s Ground we have two-way learning – led by us. Children are learning First Nations language and culture and Western language and culture. Whatever we teach our kids, we want it to be the best in a way they will learn and grow and succeed. We will have high standards for all of our teachers and workers. First Nations and Western. We will surround the kids with everything they need – for their health, their spirit, their knowledge. We will do this for all kids, with families walking alongside them.
The picture also shows the ownership. The families and communities have ownership of Children’s Ground through all that impatye, all those footprints. We focus on keeping the centre and core strong and functional for the little ones – it’s their foundation, their language and their culture. If we don’t have those strong pathways our kids can’t go anywhere.
Everyone around the outside can support us, but we must start and stay with the Elders as we grow. We celebrate our children, our culture, our knowledge, our Elders, our young people, our families. Everyone has a story. Our kids will grow up proud, not lost.