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Hearts Indigenous program recognised


Sacred Heart College (SHC) has received national recognition for its boarding program for Indigenous students with an excellence award from the Australian Boarding Schools Association.

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Almost 15 years ago the college began a working relationship with the Port Augusta and Davenport communities which has strengthened and expanded to communities in the APY Lands and beyond.

The college, along with its boarding house, has established an appropriate and culturally supportive environment for its 32 Indigenous students, including providing the Nunga Room space at the Marcellin campus.

“This is a place where our Indigenous students feel culturally safe, have access to resources, teachers and support staff,” said Robyn Sutherland, SHC Aboriginal Education coordinator.

“It holds a very important place and role within the daily school lives of the young Aboriginal people in our care.

“We have also formed strong networks with staff in other schools in order to facilitate networks for our students of other young Aboriginal people experiencing life in boarding school and we provide opportunities to regularly catch up.

“We approach education in a holistic manner, offering strong physical and emotional wellbeing support frameworks through which students can access mental health support, general health and dental and optometry checks.”

SHC students Rebekah McKenzie, Chariqua Buzzacott, Shanea Haseldine, Vaniah Nelson and Tayah Coulthard-Todd demonstrate their artistic skills.

The college employs three young Aboriginal people to work as tutors and mentors which, Ms Sutherland said, has had a great impact on students.

“However, the pivotal piece that provides strength to the Hearts Aboriginal Education program is the strong relationships we have built, not only with the young people entrusted to us, but with their families and communities,” she added.

SHC principal Steve Byrne said the award recognised the “extraordinary support and liaison of BJA, parent to old scholars Aziel Stuart (2015), Lartrell Stuart (2018) and Clay Stuart (2020) with the extended Davenport community”.

“The college is keen to acknowledge posthumously the contributions of BJA to the Hearts Aboriginal program,” he said.



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