Kiya Watt Designed The First Indigenous Doll For Play School

In honour of


week, which celebrates Indigenous Australians in July every year, the first doll to recognise and represent Indigenous Australians has been introduced to Play School.

I grew up watching Play School and I can recall every doll and presenter that I loved - Jemima and Big Ted, of course. It is so important that we recognise that there is a major divide in the health, social and economic wellbeing between native Australians and the rest of us. It isn't solely the job of politicians or celebrities to ensure that this changes. It comes down to the choices we all make and all Australians have an opportunity to learn more about the language, the history, the traditions and the values of Indigenous Australia. How is it possible, even in this enlightened age, that we study World War 2 and German history with greater attentiveness than our own Indigenous history and culture? Still. Whatever you do or don't know about our shared history, I hope you enjoy my interview with Kiya Watt, who designed Play School's own Kiya.

Had you watched Play School before or growing up? How much did you know about it?

I grew up watching Play School. I can always remember trying to guess which shaped window I would be looking through on the episodes. It was always such an exciting show. A lot of my early creativity came from watching Play School’s craft episodes.

Tell me about being Menang Noongar - what does this mean to your sense of community and identity?

Menang means that my Mob is from south Western Australia. Menang covers the very southern areas/lands of south Western Australia such as Albany which is a 4 hour drive south from Perth and is where I am located. It is a huge part of my identity within my Noongar community. Their are 14 different  Groups of Noongar people (Amangu, Ballardong, Yued, Kaneang, Menang, Njakinjaki, Gnudju, Bibulman, Pindjarup, Wardandi, Whadjuk, Wilman & Wudjari) We all have our own individual languages and cultural stories. We all have our own individual totems as well. My cultural identity is dependent on my families stories/language that is why it’s so important to acknowledge our groups that we belong too.

You have 3 children - how old are they and how have they responded to the doll and to Play School?

I have 2 twin sons who are currently 9 years old which means they were old enough to sit down and learn and be apart of the process and story behind the painting I did for Play School. They are very proud of their culture, and have grown up with strong cultural identities which makes me so happy,. They also are mega fans of

Baker Boy

so are actually just as excited as my youngest to tune in and watch the new series of Play School. As for my youngest, she is only 2 years old so watching her see the Kiya doll on TV and the ads has been so exciting. She absolutely loves Play School and starts screaming and clapping when she sees the Kiya doll on TV. It’s so heart warming because my children are so proud to be Noongar and for them to look up on TV and see that representation gives them so much  pride.

As a mother, how important is it for your children to see positive representation of indigenous children and women on mainstream TV?

It is imperative for all Aboriginal and non Aborginal children to see this representation. To gain that knowledge on our identities within our communities it is just so necessary. The children are our future and this knowledge is so powerful. For them to start learning in their own homes and feel that connection with the longest living culture in the world and feel connected is just so positive. It’s such a proud moment for all.

What does Kiya mean in traditional Noongar (I have read "hello")?

Yes it means hello but it is more then that for us. It is how we connect and show respect.

Tell me about your choice of colour, pattern and overall design - does it tell a story and what do you hope people feel and think when they see it?

Yes it does tell a story, and it will be shown on the acknowledgment episode airing this Monday at 9am on ABC Me on Play School.

Image: Kiya Watt and Play School Producer, Bryson Hall.

It's the 3pm Munchies Cure!

From the fabulous Recipes and Images from Courtyard Kitchen by Natalie Boog, published by Murdoch Books, I have two killer recipes that will have you racing for the door and ready to get into the kitchen tonight. Or now.
Book available now. Buy it here.

 Basil & Parmesan Polenta Chips

When cooked perfectly, these chips have a lovely crunchy crust. They’re delicious on their own as a snack, or served with steak and salad. If I’m cooking polenta to eat with another dish, I make extra with a little basil, and refrigerate it, so I have some ready to go for these yummy chips.

Serves 4 as a side.

500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) chicken or vegetable stock

190 g (6¾ oz/1 cup) coarse polenta (cornmeal)
80 g (2¾ oz/¾ cup) finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil spray (optional)

  1. Line a 20 cm (8 inch) square glass or ceramic dish with baking paper.
  2. Put the stock and 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Slowly pour in the polenta, whisking until well combined. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring regularly to prevent the polenta catching, for about 20 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and comes away from the side of the pan. 
  3. Remove from the heat, add the parmesan and basil, season to taste and combine well. Pour the polenta into the prepared dish, cool, then refrigerate for 2 hours, or until firm. 
  4. Cut the polenta into chips and cook on a lightly oiled barbecue hotplate until golden and crisp on all sides. Alternatively, spray the chips with olive oil and bake at 180°C (350°F) for 20 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Serve hot.

Lamb & Herb Salad

Serves 4
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) lamb backstraps or loin fillets
3 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary 
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
150 g (5½ oz) cherry tomatoes
250 g (9 oz) haloumi cheese, sliced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves 
1 small handful coriander (cilantro) leaves 
1 small handful tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon coarsely torn basil leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint 
4 handfuls rocket
40 g (1½ oz/¼ cup) pine nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Put lamb in a shallow dish, drizzle with a little oil, add half the rosemary and thyme, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Leave to stand for 30 minutes. 
  3. Put the tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with a little oil and season. Roast for 20 minutes, or until soft but not falling apart. Leave oven on.
  4. Heat an ovenproof frying pan over medium–high heat and sear the lamb on both sides, until just browned. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the lamb for 10–12 minutes, or until it is cooked to your liking. Allow the lamb to rest for 10 minutes, before slicing it diagonally.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the haloumi for 30 seconds on each side, or until golden. Remove from the pan and tear into large pieces.
  6. Put all the herbs, including the remaining rosemary and thyme, in a bowl. Add the rocket, pine nuts, roasted tomatoes and haloumi. 
  7. Whisk oil and vinegar together and season to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Divide the salad evenly among four plates, top with the sliced lamb and serve immediately.