Students appreciating Indigenous history

Students at St. Joseph’s primary school in Clare have been learning about the history of the Indigenous Australians this week in celebration of NAIDOC week.

NAIDOC week runs from the first Sunday to the second Sunday in July each year and celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Tim Packer, Year 4 and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander focus teacher at St. Joseph’s, said NAIDOC week celebrations at the school were helping Indigenous kids and their families feel included within the community, as well as rediscovering their identity.

“The Indigenous families we have at this school are really keen to make their kids feel really comfortable with their aboriginality or their Torres Strait Islander connections,” he said.

“It is something that is certainly growing amongst the community here at St. Joes.”

St. Joseph’s have been taking part in celebrations for the last 15 years and have been teaching their students about the Ngadjuri peoples, the traditional owners of the land in the Mid-North.

A buddy system has been put in place for this years celebrations, with the older students partnering up with the younger ones to help teach them about Indigenous history through outlets such as vitural reality tours of landmarks and Indigenous games.

Mr Packer said that the students love celebrating NAIDOC week and learning more about Indigenous history.

“They really, really enjoy it,” he said, “they get into it in all sorts of different ways and it is always surprising how keen and how engaged kids want to be.

“Kids just want to know the truth, they want to know what happened so they are naturally curious and naturally they want to work it out.

“They are absolutely amazed with the Dreaming stories.”

This years theme for NAIDOC week is our languages matter, aiming to bring awareness back to the unique dialects that exist in Australia.

At one point, over 200 different languages were in use but today only 120 are regularly spoken and many face the risk of being forgotten entirely.

Mr. Packer said that the kids at St. Joseph’s were being taught some of the Ngadjuri dialect as part of celebrations, helping to tell them more about the history of the region.

“Languages are vital,” he said, “they explain who we are, what we are, what we believe in, what we imagine and they even describe things that subconsciously we are not even aware of.”

“Even though we do not have any Ngadjuri kids at this school, kids are still really keen to learn about the language that was here.

“Kids enjoy the Ngadjuri language, we have kids in the class who in their spare time get out their Ngadjuri book and just write out words and then try and create stories.

“It is a beautiful thing that they are really keen to do.”

Nine year old Lenni Rodwell, a Year 4 student at St. Joseph’s, said it was important that NAIDOC week was celebrated because “every language matters.”

“We get to learn about Indigenous stuff and it is really fun,” he said, “I just love Indigenous people.”