Early literacy program facilitates connections with culture

15 Mar 2021

Storytime sessions at Newcastle Libraries are helping to introduce Newcastle families to Indigenous perspectives on early learning.

Newcastle Libraries collaborated with Rainbow Crow Cultural Collective on an innovative program that transforms its popular Storytime and Babytime sessions into an Aboriginal-led early literacy program.

The free Wayapa Babytime and Storytime programs are being delivered by qualified Aboriginal Health Practitioner and Cultural Consultant Sarah Corrigan, with around 20 families taking part in the booked-out trial running at the City Library during March. A four-week term will begin at Wallsend Library from 4 May, with bookings opening in early April.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes welcomed the new addition to the Libraries’ stimulating suite of Early Literacy programs

“City of Newcastle is committed to supporting initiatives that encourage social inclusion and community connections,” she said.

“The Wayapa programs are open to all families, fostering knowledge sharing and community building.”

Councillor Carol Duncan said the program was an important addition to the Libraries’ programming.

“This program will help embed Aboriginal perspectives into our early literacy programs, providing an opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous families to experience cultural connections and early learning experiences in a welcoming and inclusive space,” Cr Duncan said.

Wayapa is an earth, mind, body, spirit practice that promotes wellbeing. It is based on ancient Indigenous knowledge about living in harmony with the environment and connection with the world’s oldest living continual culture.

Wayapa Babytime provides an opportunity for carers to slow down and connect inwards with themselves, their baby and the environment, while Wayapa Storytime uses storytelling, movement and nature-based craft to introduce children to Aboriginal-based earth mindfulness, promoting sustainability, connection and community.

Ms Corrigan said the program introduced parents to Aboriginal ways of learning, showing them how they can use easily accessible household and natural resources to stimulate their child’s development.

“Wayapa connects everyone, regardless of background or age, to Indigenous Australians' deep, spiritual connection to Country,” she said.

“For children the natural environment is the best playground and for parents it’s the cheapest. Wayapa offers a way for parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, grandies and carers to use the natural environment as a starting point for sensory play.

“The collaboration with Newcastle Libraries has been a wonderful opportunity share and show the strength and value of Aboriginal culture with everyone.

“It makes me happy that the families who come along are growing up bubs and little ones who will have a greater respect and understanding of First Nation Australians’ beliefs and culture. The future generations will hopefully be able to walk together to care for Country in partnership.”