Bringing cultural knowledge to kinder

Koori culture is an important part of kindergarten fun and learning

Marissa Bennett is becoming a familiar face at pre-schools across the Mallee – and her Barkindji culture is now an important part of the kindergarten fun.
Marissa took up the role as Koorie Pre School Assistant with Mallee District Aboriginal Services late last year and is now starting her first full year in the role.
“There’s not really any choice but to hit the ground running when you’re a KPSA!” Marissa said.
“I absolutely love the role for that reason – the kids are so busy and active and you just have to roll your sleeves up and get into it.”
Marissa is a regular visitor to kindergarten groups right across the Mildura Rural City Council area.  She visits kinders in the Sunraysia area, but also travels as far as Murrayville, Ouyen and Werrimull for “bush kinder” programs.
She joins in the children’s regular activities but also runs formal sessions introducing elements from her Barkindji culture to storytelling and play.
“Two of my favorite stories are ‘How the koala lost his tail’, and ‘How the birds got their colors’, just depending on the age and the understanding of the group,” Marissa said.
“The kids love the traditional stories and the activities that go with them – and I love talking about my culture and passing on the privilege of my background to a new generation.
“Kids at this age are very accepting and very direct. They ask questions and they challenge you a bit at times, but it’s great – everyone learns!”
The director of the Irymple Kindergarten Hayley D’Ettorre said all the kinder groups enjoyed sessions with Marissa.
“Marissa is able to bring authentic Aboriginal learning experiences for the children, and that’s a terrific experience for them,” Hayley said.
“Marissa shares her stories and her cultural knowledge and understanding not just with our children, but also our families and staff,” she said.
“We love having her here and watching the relationships she’s building with the children.”
• Marissa Bennett and Hayley D’Ettorre with Rocky Cavallo, Ariana Karallis and Rosie Cavallo

MALLEE DISTRICT ABORIGINAL SERVICES  “Our Vision: Generations of vibrant, healthy and strong Aboriginal communities”

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