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A brighter future for Indigenous children

09 November 2020, Impact of Our Work, Voices from the Field

The dedicated staff making it happen

Off the coast of the Northern Territory lies Groote Eylandt, Australia’s third largest island and home to the Anindilyakwa People. Fourteen Traditional Owner groups have lived and cared for the island for over 8,000 thousand years and maintain their salt-water culture, strong ceremonial traditions, and spiritual connection. It’s a place where community plays a critical role.

It’s something Janet Bara is only too well aware of as a nurturing figure and Early Childhood Worker with Save the Children where she supports families and children through the playgroup, Play2Learn. Many of the families that attend playgroup are local families she knows well, including her own grandchildren. And it’s for them she’s so committed to working with the program.

Janet encourages the children to read and play with toys to enhance their learning. Photo: Save the Children

Janet’s story

Janet started working with Save the Children as an Early Childhood Worker in 2019. She works with the team to lead the bicultural support for the Play2Learn playgroup – which runs weekly across four communities and outstations from Monday to Thursday. On Friday it’s time to plan activities aligned with children’s needs and aspirations and prepare for the next week ahead. 

“I love working with the children,” says Janet. “We do all sorts of activities to support them and their families like making playdough, eating bushfoods, playing with toys, and reading books together. All of this will help them learn and be ready for school. I want to give them a good learning experience so they can grow up to have a job they like, just like me.” 

From sand to Play-Doh to painting: the kids enjoy sensory activities that develop their gross and fine motor skills. Photo: Save the Children

While the children are learning through play, Janet is also keen to create a space where they feel welcomed, safe and heard. “The children just rush in,” she says. “They are eager to play with toys and tell us what activities they like. I feel so lucky to be doing this job and seeing that.”

“Although this year has been tricky and we had to shut down for many weeks for safety, we are so happy to see the children back now.”

Janet Mara, Early Childhood worker

Through play, laughter, and care from the community around them, Janet is eager to see the growing children of Groote Eylandt enjoy playing and learning to create a connected and bright future for themselves.

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