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Journey to the heart


Students from St Joseph’s School, Clare, made strong connections with Indigenous culture when they embarked on a 10-day journey through the Flinders Ranges to Central Australia late last year.

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Over the past seven years, the school community has been walking a path of reconciliation, developing a close relationship with the Ngadjuri community and embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues and viewpoints into their learnings.

After expanding from a primary school to include middle years, the school had an opportunity last year to introduce Indigenous Languages and Cultures into the core curriculum for Years 7, 8 and 9.

St Joseph’s is now a pilot school for the Australian Curriculum ‘V9 Indigenous Languages’, working in partnership with the Ngadjuri community and First Nation language experts.

This learning culminated in the recent visit to the Flinders Ranges and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Students and staff participated in several cultural experiences and heard first-hand accounts of the social history of the Adnyamathanha people. This provided a First Nations perspective and enabled students to reflect on subject content and make connections to classroom learnings.

Assistant principal Tom Gilligan said one of the most moving experiences on country was an ‘Ochre ceremony’ with Adnyamathanha Elder Uncle Teri Coulthard.

“This experience was deeply spiritual and one that resonated with all students, providing a deep and spiritual point of reflection as our students prepare for their senior secondary education journey and draw strength from themselves and those around them,” Mr Gilligan said.

“We heard about parallels between Adnyamathanha culture and our Catholic faith.

“As we moved out of Adnyamathanha Country and into Kuyani and Arabana, we began to grow as a group and as individuals, we came together as a cohort of students, but also began to find our own sense of self, what we value and who we are.

“When we arrived in Coober Pedy, we had a chance to pause and reflect in the St Peter and St Paul Catholic Church.”

Moving on to Pitjantjatjara country the group experienced Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon.

Mr Gilligan said the trip allowed students to “connect with themselves and step away from their parents and technology”.

“It strengthened their connection with their peers, faith and Indigenous culture. It’s a journey to the heart of who they are, and they will graduate with strength of character and self-confidence.”

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