Leaders in education

June 03, 2017

St Luke's students Georgie Tidd, Emma Ash, Sofia Derose, Xavier Janke, Matilda Keenan, Will Broom and Ella Rumbiolo.

Reconciliation efforts have taken decades to hit many of our radars, but one Shepparton primary school has witnessed the value of educating its young Australians on indigenous culture and history early.

At St Luke’s Primary School in Shepparton’s north, indigenous education is part of the curriculum.

Students are taught about the local Bangerang and Yorta Yorta cultures, Aboriginal history and trauma is touched on in history lessons and each week there is an acknowledgment of country at school assemblies.

All of this is in addition to the long-standing reflection garden, specifically designed as a reminder of Aboriginal history.

This week the school has taken part in a range of reconciliation activities, including Shepparton’s Sorry Day, prayer liturgies and art which will end up in the school’s reflection garden.

Year 6 FIRE carrier Emma Ash said Reconciliation Week was important because of the large number of indigenous people in the Goulburn Valley.

The school will appoint two new FIRE carriers, student and teacher representatives who ignite the education of reconciliation.

Emma said the students knew aspects of indigenous history, but she would like to learn more.

‘‘We’ve learnt about the Shepparton tip area, about the Queen coming across the causeway and how the indigenous people were hidden,’’ Emma said.

Year 5-6 teacher Michelle Hicks, who has been a teacher for more than 20 years, has noticed a significant shift recently in the way indigenous history is taught in schools.

‘‘There is definitely more awareness around and, I think with the kids now, there has always been that acceptance of the indigenous culture,’’ Mrs Hicks said.

‘‘As their knowledge increases they become more curious and want to know more, and they’re not afraid to do that.’’

Mrs Hicks said the Catholic school, which has 242 students, taught the children about the Stolen Generation, as well as government issues that impacted on the country’s indigenous communities.

‘‘It’s also about talking to indigenous people about their history and not being scared to do that, because that’s part of reconciliation and the healing purpose,’’ Mrs Hicks said.

‘‘Reconciliation Week for us is not a one-off activity, it’s just a part of what we do every day to learn more about indigenous culture and it’s right throughout the school.’’

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