As testament to the progressive Sydney teacher’s enthusiasm, she has just received the Outstanding Young Graduate Award at the HESTA Early Childhood Education and Care Awards for her contribution towards improving child awareness around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture.

Working with a strong team, Sydir has created and implemented a comprehensive Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for 24 Explore & Develop franchise centres across the country, before customising it for the two Penrith centres that she manages as educational leader.

“Essentially, it’s not simply cultivating Indigenous learning as an interest as such,” Sydir says.

“Instead, it’s looking at Indigenous perspective in everything that we’re doing.

“Children’s interests dominate our program because when children are interested they’re more likely to learn,” she says.

“For example, with transportation, we would do a learning centre where we would facilitate cars, maybe some construction exercises, have some books out, but they’d be looking at the Indigenous side of that, too.

“How did our Indigenous people get from one place to another? Let’s try to include that.”

“It (the RAP) has embedded into our practice, into our culture, into our children’s learning, really holistically.”

Sydir is now focussed on educating her teachers on how to teach and create awareness among children.

She is well aware of how difficult this process can be for many, but her success has given her great cause for optimism.

“Outcomes for my educators have been huge because often educator awareness has taken a biased approach.

“People can have their own personal biases so there were some difficult conversations.

“We had to understand it before we could embed it into our culture...

“My educators have come on leaps and bounds and are now coming to me with ideas I haven’t thought of,” Sydir says.

The award comes with a monetary prize of $10,000, which Sydir hopes to use to fund further research.

“Essentially what I want to do is some action research and I want to compare and contrast Indigenous culture in a rural area to an urban area.

“In doing so, I can write a research paper and use it to enrich our curriculum at a mainstream centre like Penrith”, she says.