By Jessica Halliday, Gowrie NSW Early Learning Centres (AMEP) Assistant Manager
Understanding Inclusion and Diversity
I have a strong passion and interest in humanitarian issues and causes with continuous contributions made professionally and personally.
Despite working for seven years directly in Early Education and Care in a variety of Support Care, Teacher's Aide and Educator roles, I feel it wasn't until working in the AMEP program that I fully understood and embraced inclusiveness and diversity. Previously, I felt like I viewed inclusiveness and diversity as practices that I was familiar with but did not hold the same deep passion and value for as I do today. For me, it took being exposed to stories and experiences so vastly different to my own, particularly that of refugees, to make a genuine and stirring impact.
This impact has led me to embrace inclusiveness and diversity wholeheartedly in all aspects of my life. My journey with this has allowed me to make more significant discoveries about different groups within society and more significant discoveries about myself and what motivates and inspires me.
It is a journey that is still developing and one I grow more active with daily. Professionally and personally, I regularly look for meaningful ways to educate myself and promote the inclusion of people of diverse race, ethnicities, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political belief and ideologies.
This inclusion can be through:
- Personal behaviour changes such as how I greet another person, whether this is learning the greetings of their home language or greeting them in an easily recognisable way.
- Community behaviour changes and promoting diversity in my everyday conversations with family, friends and colleagues.
- Community change-making such as community events and campaigns like the Ration Challenge that I will be participating in for my third consecutive year in June.
- Systematic change and using my legal voice in petitions and voting, influencing the decision-making of governing bodies on issues that affect people of diversity.
Often, I feel like we complicate inclusion by overthinking it and creating perceptions of how we think it should be, which can often appear tokenistic. However, what we need to do more of, is actively listening to people at the forefront of these diverse groups and acting on how they want inclusion to occur.
Recognising the human connection
As individuals, we all fundamentally seek inclusion. Inclusion starts when we recognise the human connection and authentically get to know and listen to one another just as we would want to be. Diversity is for celebrating and inclusion is for everyone; combining the two becomes of more profound value for ourselves, others and the society we hope children to grow in.
About the Author
Jessica Halliday is a passionate Early Childhood Educator who has worked in the sector for the past ten years. In her work for Gowrie NSW, Jessica holds experience in both direct care and support office roles as an AMEP Project Officer, Team Support and Early Learning Centres Assistant Manager
Topics: Teaching Strategies and Practice